Drawn together through ‘lived experience’

Two US architects explain how, having both experienced mental health challenges, they were ‘drawn to sketching as a designer’s preferred medium for defining problems and driving solutions with pen and paper’.

Stephen Parker, an architect and behavioural health planner at Stantec in the Washington, DC region, and Shahad Niyazi Sadeq, an architectural designer, and Executive Director at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Springfield chapter, explain how, having both experienced mental health challenges personally or through family, and being introduced through mutual colleagues, they were ‘drawn to sketching as a designer’s preferred medium for defining problems and driving solutions with pen and paper’. The experience granted them ‘a sense of agency in an otherwise distressing time’, and here they tell their stories, and reflect on the negative impact of poor design and service-use settings on recovery. 

Often crisis and trauma leave one paralysed to move forward in recovery, and they have a similar effect on friends and family witnessing a loved one go through an often misunderstood and stigmatised psychological suffering,” explained Stephen Parker. “Both Shahad and I came to collaborate with our DrawnOut! Mental Health Sketch Workshops after being introduced through mutual colleagues that recognised our interest in mental health and design. We were drawn – pun intended – to sketching as a designer’s preferred medium for defining problems and driving solutions with pen and paper.” 

Shahad’s story

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