Mental Health Foundation

Moral ethics are usually evident with the graphic design undertaken for charitable organisations. The case study chosen here is the Mental Health Foundation.

The Mental Health Foundation was initially conceived as the Mental Health Research Fund (MHRF) in 1949 by Dr Derek Richter following his frustration with the lack of available funding for mental health (Mental Health Foundation, 2013). Over the next 60 years the original MHRF developed into a wide-reaching role as “information provider and campaigning organisation” combining research and support (Mental Health Foundation, 2013). Today the charity is dedicated to reducing the suffering caused by mental illness and helping people lead mentally healthy lives. From their website (Mental Health Foundation, 2013a):

We help people to survive, recover from and prevent mental health problems. We do this by:

  • carrying out research
  • developing practical solutions for better mental health services
  • campaigning to reduce stigma and discrimination
  • promoting better mental health for us all

In 2011 the branding of the Mental Health Foundation received an overhaul at the hands of SEA Design (Gosling, 2011). Their previous identity had been less corporate, that of a small charity, not a nationwide force.

Previous design: Boiling Point Poster – 2008

Mental health foundation boiling Point Poster 2008

Mental Health Foundation, 2008. Boiling point poster. [image online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/content/assets/PDF/publications/boiling_point_poster.pdf?view=Standard [Accessed 9th April 2013].

The new identity, which has since been used through all communications features the new logo, aiming to convey the “authority and credibility” of the charity (Gosling, 2011).

Mental Health Foundation New Logo

Mental Health Foundation Logo

Mental Health Foundation Logo, SEA Design, 2011. [image online] Available at: http://rightherebrightonandhove.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/mhf-logo-black.jpg [Accessed 9th April 2013].

The campaigns run by the Mental Health Foundation are intended to feel inclusive, which is notable through their design. Unlike the case studies for products, where techniques of manipulation and exclusion have been used to provoke a response towards purchasing the product.

The poster campaigns produced by the charity often focus on individuals with no unusual features, preventing the rise of stigmatism associated with mental illness. In doing this the campaigns also open the viewer to the accept the possibility they are suffering from mental ill health, by removing the stereotype.

Mental Health Foundation – Insomnia Campaign 2011

Mental Health Foundation, 2011. Insomnia.

Mental Health Foundation, 2011. Insomnia. [image online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/sleep-posters-man/ [Accessed 8th April 2013].

Mental Health Foundation, 2011. Insomnia.

Mental Health Foundation, 2011. Insomnia. [image online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/sleep-posters-woman/ [Accessed 8th April 2013].

With the two posters featured, for the insomnia campaign launched in 2011 it is possible to see how the techniques for moral ethics in graphic design have been used. The posters use honesty, facts relating to the importance of sleep and the proportion of the population suffering from insomnia. This gives the posters credibility. As this is a charity we assume it is free from corruption. These posters are supportive and educational, with the intention to be to reduce those suffering from mental and physical health issues as a result of insomnia.

These posters and further literature provided by the Mental Health Foundation could be used to help advise a code of ethics for designers focusing away from charitable work. By not misleading, misrepresenting and making people feel guilty we can give design a better name.

Many ambitious designers may be reluctant to take on small charity projects, however as shown here the identity of a charity can be effective and professional.

Go to next section: Stonewall

Gosling, E., 2011. SEA Rebrands the Mental Health Foundation. [online] Design Week, 2nd February. Available at: http://www.designweek.co.uk/news/sea-rebrands-the-mental-health-foundation/3022978.article [Accessed 26th March 2013].

Mental Health Foundation, 2013. Our History. [online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/about-us/our-history/ [Accessed 27th March 2013].

Mental Health Foundation, 2013a. About Us. [online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/about-us/ [Accessed 27th March 2013].

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