Depression is a widespread mental illness, yet it often remains invisible and misunderstood.
The goal for this zine was to inform the general public about a complex subject, through both visual narrative, informational graphics, and visualized data, in order to communicate meaningful, actionable information.
February 2019 – March 2019
With this zine, I aimed to help the general public become better educated around depression and to be able to recognize its signs, in order to understand how to approach, check in with, and support loved ones. This zine is intended to be applicable as a resource to health-related organizations, such as in counseling and health centers, support groups, or campus clubs.
I set out to collect data that would help readers understand depression, thinking about how visualizations could help simplify, contexualize, and humanize the data. I used the content outline below to help guide my collection process and organize the information in a cohesive flow.
What is depression?
What is the impact of depression?
How can the reader help?
In an online survey that received 38 responses, I learned about what people's experience with depression, what they wanted to know in order to support someone with depression, as well as concerns they would have with supporting them. I used this survey as a way to understand the perspective of the zine's audience, and tailored the content accordingly.
Participants showed particular interest in having more information around how to have a conversation about depression, expressing concern that they wouldn't know "how to choose the right words to comfort them" or that they "could make it worse by saying something wrong."
An essential part of my data collection process was five interviews that I did with friends who have had experience with depression and mental health issues. Depression can be dehumanized and over-simplified down to a set of symptoms – these interviews aimed to provide a realistic view into how depression actually affects people. In these interviews, I also asked for feedback on the type of data being shown in the zine.
During my ideation phase, I thought about different ways data could be viusally represented in order to enhance the audience's understanding, and also began brainstorming layout ideas.
Receiving feedback from my instructor and peers was crucial in my design process and in developing the narrative and visual style of my zine. Here are some important points of feedback that I focused on:
The final zine educates the audience about what depression is and its prevalence, and provides actionable information about how to support loved ones. Quotes from the interviews I conducted are woven inbetween and within pages and are typed in hand-written fonts, establishing a personal narrative throughout the zine to balance and humanize statistics. The graphs, icons, and illustrations are all hand-drawn.
This project was my first time ever creating a publication from cover to back. I was able to learn how a printed medium is much like a digital user experience – the content must be curated in a way that's comprehensive and appealing to the reader, and the sequence in which information is shown is necessary to the reader's understanding of the subject. In both print and digital, storytelling is at the core of the experience.
Communicating the topic of depression in juxtaposition with data posed a unique challenge. It was an interesting problem of determining how to communicate numbers in relation to a serious health topic in an appropriate tone – somber, yet not clinical, and still hopeful and human. This resulted in constant iteration of visual choices – a welcome challenge, especially for a topic of personal importance.
If I had more time, here are a few steps I would've loved to pursue: