My Final Project:
The final project for this course really allowed students to apply digital techniques learned in class and apply them to something we were interested in. Students were able to take a subject we were interested in and creatively make it digital. What I decided to do was take research I had done on the psychiatric survivor movement last semester and create a website. The purpose of this website is to not only be education and informative but to help guide researchers on primary source materials regarding the movement. I also wanted this website to discuss how mental illness is regarded today and inform people how they can contribute to breaking stigmas that surround it. This is discussed at the beginning of my website, where I also have linked a YouTube video for a quick guide as to what the psychiatric survivor movement is all about and provided a brief introduction about myself so users are familiar with who has put together the contents of the website. I have chosen to take this angle with this medium because I believe finding information about mental illness today is widely available, however, not many people understand its history. I believe a website is the best and most accessible way for my research to reach the public, as anybody with a connection to the Internet and a quick search online can find what I have published.
The history surrounding mental illness is important as it dramatically transformed our heath care system by drawing attention to the abuse that can so easily happen within the system. Research on the psychiatric survivor movement suggests it has succeeded in providing ex-patients or survivors with alternatives such as: social support, empowerment, mental wellbeing, self-management and reduced service use. I had the opportunity to read a collection of primary source documents that were difficult to find, but incredibly informative as they shedding light on what health care abuses were truly like and how survivors created such alternative treatments. The primary sources used within my research were a collection of magazines from San Francisco, California and Toronto, Ontario. My website primarily focuses on the magazines from Toronto, known as the Phoenix Rising collection provided by the Psychiatric Survivors Archives of Toronto. I have linked each volume that was published in order on my website. The hyperlinks to the magazines were titled as each volume number; however, the date was also provided even more of a chronological ordered list. I have also provided a section on the website where audio recordings are provided for individuals to hear testimonies I have recorded myself reading. I also provided a link to the text copies of the testimonies I recorded to give users multiple formats. Originally, I embedded a media player into my website where the audio files could be heard, however, the application no longer works on Wix and I was unable to find any others. In order to make sure my recordings were still accessible I provided a link to where the audio files can be played.
Another section on the website provides a detailed description of what the movement was, how it picked up momentum, and outlines both its successes and failures. This section is very heavy in text-content and after some advice given by fellow classmates; I have divided the text into sections with headings. This will make the information available easier to read and will allow users to find the information they are interested in faster. It has also made the page more visibly appealing.
One of the sections of my website that proved to be the most difficult to construct was the maps and timeline section. I used this section to visually show geographically how the movement interacted from San Francisco Bay to Toronto and chronically outline the timing of major points in the movement. The application I originally used to construct the timeline did not function property, and therefore I created a timeline on Microsoft Word and embedded the image. I hoped to include more of an interactive map on my website that I created with Google Earth, however, it appears that there is no way to include such a thing using WIx. Therefore, I have uploaded a picture of the map I created and provided a link where users can download the KML Google Earth file, for a copy of the interactive map.
Lastly, my website contains a section where I inform users of the Bell Let’s Talk Campaign, that combats stigma’s around mental illness today. I provided a detailed analysis of what the Bell campaign is, what it does, and how successful it has been. I have also included a comments section where users can leave comments about other similar campaigns running, discuss their involvement with Bell’s campaign, or discuss mental illness today.
Overall, this website does what I had hoped it would from the beginning. It works as an educational tool for users to familiarize themselves with the history of mental illness. Educational information is accessible through multiple formats, it links users to excellent primary source material and discusses ways to get involved in menial health movements today. It provides a space where users can communicate and offers a number of resources available for download. Despite encountering some hardships along the way that disallowed some of my original ideas, modifications along the way have made each goal possible.