SAMA is a project to support research, understanding and policy around the mental health of India's youth. It is estimated that 1 in 5 school-going adolescents in India live with anxiety, stress or depression. More than half of mental health conditions arise during adolescence, and many persist into adulthood, affecting around 150 million adults in India. Without action, the incidence of mental health disorders in the country is set to rise and support resources are already stretched.
Launched in January 2021, the SAMA project is led jointly by the University of Leeds and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore. The team is embarking on the first phase of athree-year project to help young people understand and manage their own mental health, to educate teachers about adolescent mental health, improve the school environment and reduce mental health stigma, and to help parents better support the young personthey care for.
The project team at the University of Leeds briefed Thompson to create a new brand and a website that would act as an HQ for the project, providing a central platform for all stakeholders – young people, teachers, parents, mental health NGOs and policy makers. It would bea place for them to find information, resources andget the latestnews on the project's progress. It would also be an opportunity to give voice to the young people who are the focus of the SAMA project.
The process started with a thorough strategic review to understand the issues and attitudes across user groups and identify what they would need from SAMA as a resource.
At the centre of the solution is an identity scheme, featuring a new logo which highlights the key function of the SAMA project – to open up the conversation about young people's mental health. To appeal to full breadth of their audiences, we provided them with a suite of visual assets – graphics and illustrations – that could be easily applied across the site and be used for other applications such as print, if required. The Thompson team developed a bespoke illustration style that could grow over time too, providing ownable assets and allowing us to create content that was culturally appropriate for both the UK and Indian audiences.
A website was needed too. Thompson provided expert UX and design input, creating an intuitive digital experience that will easily grow over the three years of the project as a body of research is produced by the team. Our UX inputhelped tomake sense of the vast amount of planned contentandmake it accessible to a wide range of users.
Feedback and results
Siobhan Hugh-Jones at the University of Leeds commented:
While the SAMA project is essentially an academic project, we knew that to engage with a wide range of audiences and bring people along with us, we’d need a strong brand.
We’ve worked with Chris and the team before so we were confident that they’d tackle the subject in a really sensitive way, and they did. They found a way to make the brand engaging and inclusive, while keeping sight of the serious issues around mental health and the cultural complexitiesat the heart ofthe project.
Chris Skelton, Creative Director, also commented:
Our creative approach was to create an identity that appeals to a vast multicultural audience which includes both adolescents and professionals. The illustrations feature characters and scenes that the audience can resonate with, to actively encourage project participation.
It was also important that the graphic approach could live beyond the initial launch of the brand, ensuring that over the next three years the identity doesn’t feel stagnant. We worked to provide a library of illustrations that SAMA themselves can build upon and evolve, giving them ultimate flexibility without requiring an individual designer should they need some new assets.