On Our Minds’: 3D printing for mental health awareness

CIM UPC is participating in a joint Unicef and Domestic Data Streamers project within the framework of the Global Mental Health Summit to carry out an installation that depicts and highlights mental and emotional afflictions such as anxiety and depression in young people.

“A tribute to all the youth who are suffering hardship”. This is the claim behind the collaboration between Unicef and Domestic Data Streamers in which CIM UPC and BCN3D have participated in the printing and post-processing of pieces. The project, entitled ‘On Our Minds’, installed in Paris, aims to raise awareness around mental health and how ailments such as stress, anxiety and depression have increased considerably in children and adolescents, especially during the pandemic.

Unicef presented its annual report ‘The State of the World’s Children’ during the World Mental Health Summit ‘Mind Our Rights, Now!’ in Paris in early October. This document presents alarming data on the mental health of children and youth: almost one million children and adolescents suffer from anxiety and/or depression in France during the pandemic. Unicef presented this information to Domestic Data Streamers, and the study chose to make the situation visible through an exhibition of statues made in 3D to force a discussion on this issue at the Summit.

The installation is made up of ten busts representing the true stories of ten young people, which in turn symbolize, each one, 100,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who suffer from anxiety and depression in France. “For too many young people in France and around the world, lack of awareness, stigma, social isolation and chronic underfunding of services means they don’t get the support they need,” explain Unicef.

The choice of the type of figure, the bust, was not accidental either. Martina Nadal, head of Social Impact at Domestic Data Streamer, explains that “normally, we pay tribute to kings and queens and older people and conquerors. We thought it would be a beautiful idea to make a tribute to all these young people who have been suffering in especially difficult conditions during the pandemic”. With this idea in mind, the volunteers explained the real-life testimony of children and young people with mental health difficulties, cyberbullying, school pressure or racism, highlighting experiences and demands with the hope that these would be addressed at the congress.

A project like this needed great attention to detail, which is why Domestic Data Streamers turned to the CIM UPC spin-off, BCN3D, with whom they had already worked frequently. Thus, the latter was in charge of printing the busts. Afterwards, it was at CIM UPC where the pieces were post-processed, polishing the result and painting them with bright colors to represent youth and diversity.

Finally, the busts were placed in emblematic points of Paris, such as the Louvre or around the Eiffel Tower. Thus, this project establishes a transdisciplinary relationship between new technologies, art, activism and even strategic urbanism, to highlight the importance of mental health, exemplifying the ability of this relationship to function as a way to raise awareness of current and future issues.