Problem Space: Due to mental health stigmas and a lack of access to healthcare, adolescent depression in Western Pennsylvania is increasing at an alarming rate.
Goal: Our team aims to analyze the scope of this problem and the relationships and patterns between systems using insights from field experts and experiences from the general public. Our research generated user-centered solutions that identify ways to cope with depression in a healthy and accessible manner.
User Research  |  Systems Thinking  |  Graphic Design
Duration: 7 Weeks
Team: Carissa Chou, Jasmin Palermo, Saumeya Suseenthiran
Programs: Figma, Miro, Illustrator 
Project Statement
Our team is invested in understanding the main causes of adolescent depression and instability from individual to societal levels, including relationships, cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic factors. 
On the individual level, instability can include superficial and unattainable expectations of students and unhealthy relationships. On the societal level, poverty, racial discrimination, and other political shortcomings are pressing factors. In addition, the uncertainty experienced during the recent Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated these existing societal issues. Throughout our research process, our ultimate conclusion was that the causes are complex, personal, and deeply interconnected.
In our visual representation, we chose to use a storm—much like a storm, depression is unpredictable and disastrous, but fortunately, it doesn’t last forever. We divided our map into seven overarching themes (Environmental, Biological, Social Media, Relationships, Identity, Politics, and Economic) each embedded within individual, communal, regional, and global scales.
Systemic Causes
Racism remains prevalent in Pittsburgh, and the history of segregation can be seen not only through police brutality but also in digital spaces.
In the City of Pittsburgh, roughly 3 in 10 kids are in poverty, and these numbers rise each year.
Individual Causes 
Unhealthy relationships, whether it be with other people, technology, or substances, lead to detrimental coping mechanisms that only intensify depression. Any relationship that causes constant fear, anguish, or sadness can be considered unhealthy.
Lack of Treatment
With a lack of funding in schools, access to mental health care is slim for adolescents in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania’s average school counselor-to-student ratio is 353 to 1.
Intervention Points
Healthy Living Campaign (Allow for faster adjustment to goals)
Creating a campaign that partners with local schools to empower young adolescents by educating them on maintaining and caring for a community garden.
Destigmatizing Mental Health (Change the mindset)
Creating a campaign that partners with schools to educate students and parents on mental health early on in childhood. The main goal is to raise awareness of mental health symptoms, helpful resources, and emotional skills.
Adolescent Care Access (Change the rules) 
Increased funding in schools to enable staff with providing stipends for adolescents that come from low-income families. Not only vouchers for basic necessities, such as food and clothing, but also for an invested mental health counselor that is specialized in their needs.

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