Co-designing with youth to support better mental health outcomes in Arabic-speaking communities
We worked with Beyond Blue and Arabic-speaking youth to co-design a compelling campaign aimed at destigmatising mental health challenges and empowering young people to help themselves and their community to access support.
Working together with Beyond Blue the following outcomes were achieved:
Increased understanding of Arabic-speaking young people's perceptions of mental health issues and the associated stigma in their community
Increased insight into what, when and where Arabic-speaking young people want to receive mental health information and support, and what knowledge and skills are needed to better support others
A social media-based communications campaign focused on listening that empowers young people to better support their family, friends and broader community with mental health challenges
Increased knowledge and capability within Beyond Blue to design and facilitate co-design approaches to create resources and services into the future
A gap in support
Despite experiencing a higher rate of mental health challenges during COVID-19, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians are not frequently engaging with mental health support services. This is partially due to barriers such as stigma, language, and a lack of familiarity with available services.
Young people with English proficiency in these communities are often the connection between their communities and the broader public. Beyond Blue identified an opportunity to equip these young people with culturally-sensitive and relevant resources to better support their friends and families through mental health challenges.
Co-designing a direction
We worked closely with eight young people from Arabic-speaking backgrounds for this engagement and facilitated two online co-design workshops designed to harness their perspectives and lived experience. In the first workshop, our participants shared what giving and receiving mental-health support looks like to them and the experience and perceptions of people seeking support. They identified the gaps in their own skills and knowledge to support other people, too. In the second workshop, we focused on designing a creative resource for young people, centred around the idea of ‘support strategies’.
We ended up with a campaign series around the topic of listening as a key way of supporting others.
Visualising the concept of listening well
We collaborated with animator Bel Giles to produce a communications campaign with four short, looping videos that can be shared across social media. Each video is accompanied by text that provides information about listening to someone else’s mental health concerns. The content of these posts was directly informed by the co-design workshops and our youth participants.
In addition to the videos, we also produced a more detailed article on the topic of ‘how to really listen’ for Beyond Blue’s website. Our social posts direct audiences to this article.
Validating and refining our co-design
We then focused on validating these campaign videos, and refining the whole process for the future. In subsequent workshops, we evaluated the completed videos with members of our original Arabic-speaking design cohort before we took the videos to another group of culturally and linguistically diverse youth who had never seen them before.
This second group came from a wider range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. We wanted to test if our initial campaign concept would still resonate with people from different cultural communities. We asked these newer young people for feedback on the social media posts and ideas about how they might be shared.
A robust, repeatable approach
This lightweight yet participatory approach to content creation can be scaled and repeated easily. A key aim for our work was building knowledge and capability within Beyond Blue to design and facilitate similar co-design processes to create future resources and services in partnership with a diverse range of communities. Beyond Blue are now poised to repeat the project with other populations that experience high rates of mental illness and low rates of mental health support access.