TXST students research mental health in San Marcos high school students
During the 2019 spring semester, Texas State University’s Design for America student organization has researched solutions to improve mental health among teens in the San Marcos area. At this year’s TXST Innovation Lab, they will present their projects.
Texas State’s Design for America team is part of a national network that helps set up studios at universities across the U.S. DFA studios work on a community-focused scale, with the goal of tackling social challenges through innovation.
“We chose to focus on high school students because we found from our initial and secondary research that they struggle greatly with challenges related to mental health. Through our research, we found free and easily accessible resources and community programs for them, but despite that, students were still struggling,” said team member Kiera Bailey.
The group worked with mental health organizations such as the San Marcos Mental Health Coalition, Scheib Center and the Greater San Marcos Youth Council. They also worked with community partners such as The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department and the San Marcos River Foundation. Through their research with these groups, Texas State DFA discovered that because of financial and familial hardships, high school students were unable to access all the resources that were available. From there, the goal became finding a solution that will make resources more accessible and tailored to the needs of these students. The team came up with two different solutions.
One of the solutions is a bus project. The bus will bring a pop-up event hosting resources and activities from the community. Through this bus project, the team hopes that it will help eliminate the need for public transportation and bring everything to the students. The other solution is an interactive app, “Flow”.
Flow operates as a game, giving users the option of choosing a character that walks them through a series of questions that will connect them with relevant resources in the community.
“Flow aims to remove the negative stigma students seemed to have around using mental health resources. By making the app fun and approachable, we saw it created a sense of comfort, trust and joy in students. It is like the marriage between a fun online quiz and a guided step-by-step flow chart,” said Bailey.