When a group of Tulane University architecture students began working on a design project at Pyramid Resource Wellness Center, a mental health treatment facility in Mid-City, it didn’t take them long to discover the state of mental health in New Orleans.
Displaying elements of the s1x (1 in Six) mental health campaign are architecture students Jose Cotto, right, and Emily Green. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)
“One in six New Orleans residents suffers from a mental illness,” says graduate student Jose Cotto, citing a 2010 study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. “But considering the number of folks that need help, there is little in the way of education.”
As part of Tulane City Center
, an outreach and applied urban research program of the Tulane School of Architecture
, students redesigned Pyramid’s outdoor dining and group therapy area, then took their work to another level.
With guidance from faculty adviser Emilie Taylor
, Cotto along with graduate students Emily Green, Alison Rodberg and Baha Javarhdi used their design and graphic skills to create a mental health awareness campaign called s1x (1 in Six).
The team produced and distributed magnets, stickers, posters and cards listing services where residents can turn to for help with substance abuse, thoughts of suicide and other mental illnesses. Coffee shops, homeless shelters and corner stores welcomed the materials.
“If you or a loved one is affected by mental illness,” the material states, “you are not alone.” It says that in 2010, 16 percent of Orleans Parish residents, or 1 in 6, had been told by a doctor they have a serious mental illness, three times the rate of 2006.
Cotto says that it was through their work with Pyramid that he and his classmates realized how dire the problem is. “We wanted to do a graphic awareness campaign that would engage the city of New Orleans in the conversation about mental wellness. You have to be creative in applying your skills and knowledge to meaningful work.”