The mental health first aid kit

Stockholm creative agency Doberman has designed a mental health first aid kit to raise awareness of mental illness in Sweden.

Stockholm creative agency Doberman has designed a mental health first aid kit to raise awareness of mental illness in Sweden.

The wall mounted kit contains a physical first aid pack and a mental health self evaluation test. Questions are designed to highlight early symptoms of stress, anxiety or other mental health issues, asking readers how often they experience common symptoms of stress, avoid social situations or have trouble concentrating or enjoying themselves.

The kit also includes a QR code which links to a mental health information site, cards displaying the questionnaire and the phone number for a mental health helpline. Launched in partnership with mental health awareness group Campaign Hjärnkoll, it’s designed to help prevent long term sick leave as a result of mental health problems by encouraging workers to discuss the issue and spot symptoms early.

The project started last summer, when Doberman asked local students to research different tools and initiatives that might help prevent long term absences from work. One of the proposals suggested was a psychological first aid kit, so Doberman decided to develop the idea after consulting psychologists, behavioural scientists and people who have experienced mental health problems in the past. The agency also received funding from private businesses in Sweden.

The kit is designed to be noticeable but discrete and look like a traditional first aid kit, says design director Kristina Carlander. “We chose blue instead of the usual green as it’s quite a calming, approachable colour but one that’s easy to read and still stands out,” she adds. The kit is being tested in 1000 workplaces around Stockholm and if it proves successful, will be rolled out nationwide.

“Everyone we’ve held workshops with and spoken to about it so far has been very positive and thinks it’s a great idea. I hope it will make mental health a little easier to talk about and less taboo,” says Carlander.

It’s the first mental health awareness project Doberman has worked on, but Carlander says the agency is keen to do more. It’s a simple, low cost idea and one that should be introduced in more countries around the world – coupled with a strong campaign, it could help ease the stigma surrounding an incredibly common but rarely talked about subject, which is the top cause of long term sick leave in Sweden and affects one in four people in the UK.

“I don’t expect it to immediately lead to less people being off sick but hopefully it will encourage a conversation about it, and that’s very important,” adds Carlander.

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