“Imagine you are a 23-year-old student working on your future and figuring out who you are. Add to this the feeling of always needing to go faster, to be better, to make your life bigger, to be nicer, lots of words ending with ‘er’ and this is starting to feel overwhelming. You go to your friends to talk about it, but they seem to be doing great! You saw Jason posting he was on a date yesterday. Maya got an 8 for the report she said she just started the day before the deadline. And Robin is on his way to start a business. How can you open up to people who seem to be doing so great? How could they understand the feeling of being overwhelmed with the need to catch up and start showing results? You do not know, so you do not do it. You keep it to yourself and go on with your day. But how long can that last?
In today’s society where we have ‘all the options’ and ‘all the information’, the feeling of needing to perform is very high. Especially with social media to remind us 24/7 that there is always someone doing even better, faster, bigger etc. In the last few months, we have come to the conclusion that the pressure that comes with this, can have serious negative consequences on the mental health of young people.”
This was our introduction to one of our 4E-model reports, and it is the best summary of why we chose to work with societal performance pressure. In a world where there’s always someone doing a better job, it can cost us our happiness and mental wellbeing. Especially during our studies, we are vulnerable to this performance pressure because of the academic pressure we put on ourselves and our environment may put on us.
We have first-hand experience with this performance pressure and as a team we decided it was enough of this. Therefore, we worked our Value Creators semester on creating a product that could help students feel less performance pressure, and prevent mental health problems.
In true Value Creators fashion we started our journey aiming to do something with alternative mental healthcare. Through various explorations on this topic we kept turning towards education and society. Therefore we decided to change direction but still have mental health at the centre of our journey. Connecting with networks and stakeholders, we came to organize a co-creation session where we focused on framing and word-choice/language use in education and the effects of this. This co-creation turned out to be extremely meaningful and confirmed to us that we were on the right path. Working vigorously to create a product to help our fellow students, we had a lot of brainstorm sessions but in the end we made a short film with a conversations card game to support it.
“Genoeg”/”Enough” Our Product
Our short film is titled “Enough”. Because we have had enough of this problem with performance pressure, and we want to convey the message that you are enough, no matter what you achievements are in life, your education level etc. We decided to conduct a social experiment where we created a small living room in Zwolle, and invited people to come and talk to us about performance pressure. This was very meaningful as the people we spoke to confirmed all our assumptions that we created through our research. Together with a spoken word piece to conclude the short film it will be a powerful means of creating awareness on the topic and hopefully putting a paradigm shift in movement for a better future. Of course just a short film is powerful, but we decided we wanted a supplement, and that is how the conversation cards game was created. Three phases, one theme, lots of questions and statements, all created to help people rethink their habits and choices, what motivates them, what gives them stress, what makes them feel enough and more.
As we are now reached the end of Value Creators, and give out our product to the world, we hope it will live a beautiful life and influence many lives in a positive manner.
Carmen van den Brink,