PERIODS AND MENTAL HEALTH (2019)


About: An awareness-raising publication about the impact of the menstrual cycle on mental health and how to access care around these issues, created in response to the D&AD New Blood Award competition prompt proposed by McKinsey around periods. 

Skills and Processes: layout design, InDesign, primary research (interviews), mass printing.  



background


For the 2019 D&AD New Blood Awards, McKinsey Design and A Case For Her proposed this design brief:




research


I carried out in-depth primary research into issues around menstruation, conducting interviews with over forty friends about their relationship with their periods, including pain, economics, social stigma and gender, and primary research into products available and their packaging and messaging. My secondary research included world issues around periods and the organisations and projects that tackle them.

My research included a survey of gendered products: what colours, images and typography are used to imply which gender should use that product? Products marketed at men tended to use capital slab-serif lettering, in dark blues and blacks, with little decoration; products marketed at women used pinks and pastel colours, with organic shapes and images, and handwritten lettering. I decided that an aim of my design should be to create something that did not gender period products

My research included a survey of gendered products

development


I explored solutions that might tackle the lack of information that the social stigma causes, since my research pointed to the damaging effect that these have. I explored different formats for telling narratives around periods to normalise primary and secondary issues, including animations and documentary films. I explored alternative, non-gendered packaging, including interesting colour schemes and prints, and non-gendered typography.

Finally, I decided that a simple information campaign in a zine or booklet format would be the most appropriate solution, with a period tracker that could provide a simple, easy method for someone to see how their mental health was impacted by their menstrual cycle. I used quotes from my research to normalise the experiences of menstruators, and came up with a poppy, colourful, non-gendered pattern as the background.

Exploring non-gendered typography and colour schemes

Exploring non-gendered illustrations and colours

Exploring the use of GIFs to tackle stigma

In developing further ideas, I focused on secondary issues related to periods, including mental health problems and medical issues such as endometriosis.

testing


I decided to make a simple publication around mental health and periods, and after interviewing a GP friend (right in the image below), decided to include a simple tracker that would help a user notice patterns in their mental health around their period to include in the publication. This tracker could help the user advocate for themselves in a doctor’s surgery. I also included tips for self-care and information about conditions such as PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, a condition that prompts a depressive episode during PMS before the period). I explored different formats this publication could take:



final design


My final design was an information publication for distribution at a doctor’s office or a pharmacy. In its centre was a pull-out period tracker. It included simple organic shapes in non-gendered patterns, illustrations that showed a range of people of different sizes and gender expressions who menstruate, typography that was somewhere between the slab serifs associated with men and the cursive associated with women. 

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