DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021

Year: 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Grøm, Mille
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
Section: Meeting 21st Century Challenges in Further and Higher Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.36
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


The interdisciplinary project ‘Public health and life skills’ is being introduced in the Norwegian basic education with a new curriculum. An essential issue is mental health and communication. The theme lacks a method of teaching, and skills from product design can be relevant. There is little design research within the field of preventive methods in mental health in the Norwegian school. Mental health related challenges are an important societal issue today and a variety of preventive work is needed in order to tackle mental health challenges, both in regards of the public health, social economics and the individual. Bror Just Andersen’ doctoral dissertation investigates the effect of teaching about mental health in Norwegian schools. He concludes that such teaching can reduce the possibility of recurrent severe illness. In addition, it can create a lower threshold for seeking early help. In the continuation of this research this study contributes with new knowledge by examining how design methodology can contribute to the development of a teaching method. This pilot study was conducted from a student with a higher education in product design perspective. The documentation included a process where the aim was to teach pupils to express the inner life, that is, the human mind. The study indicates that design methodology can have a value in the development of a teaching program in public health and life skills. A visual language for the inner life could prevent mental health challenges by concretization of the abstract, meaning feelings, thoughts by using form. This by asking pupils to express themselves in this way in groups. The purpose of the method is not to be therapeutic, but preventive by teaching pupils to speak out and acknowledge how they feel – both when feeling happy and down. Using something tangible can replace the verbal language which sometimes causes barriers when trying to express the inner life. Arts and crafts is proposed as the subject where this is to be learned, as the subject renewal emphasizes the value of creative work. A potential for achieve higher effect can be enabled if the method is used throughout the whole schooling. The product design based approach should be further studied in practice among teachers and then among pupils in a class situation.

Keywords: Public health, professional renewal, mental health, creativity


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