Tag Archives: co-create

Collaboration creating graphic summaries for an introduction to Masters level study in neurosciences and mental health

Visual Summaries for the Open University, UK, course ‘An introduction to Mental Health Science’. ‘These free, advanced level courses serve as an introduction to Masters level study in neurosciences and mental health.’


In 2017 I worked with Dr Payam Rezaie, Reader in Neuropathology at the Open University. Dr Rezaie had asked me to work with him to visually summarise the content of three, free, advanced level courses which serve as an introduction to the Masters level study in neurosciences and mental health.

We arranged a process that began with two days of working side by side to discuss the content of the modules in depth. Before we worked together Dr Rezaie sent a great deal of information and content about the course and I had begun to process the material in readiness.

Side by side we discussed the content, I took visual notes and mapped the conversation between us. I asked many questions, interrogated the information, suggested ways of illustrating the material, suggested visual connections and we debated, we debated a lot. Dr Rezaie would use the developing maps to indicate additions, connections and corrections.

By the end of two days, we had co-created rough visual maps of the three sets of content. I had suggested using a visual tryptic whereby the Anxiety graphic is on the left, the Depression graphic is on the right and a middle graphic shows the interconnections and discussion points between Anxiety and Depression. The tryptic was visually designed and developed so that each of the three could be viewed as a separate graphic summary and together all three made a larger whole graphic.

I then went to ground and developed the rough visual maps into more detailed and drawn visual summaries. During this quiet drawing stage, Dr Rezaie and Dr Heath would see draft versions and send back comments, ideas, and amends.

And then they were complete. In July last year, 2019, the course went live.

Even now when something like this is finally unveiled, I have a mix of thoughts and emotions. Firstly, I always have the wave of surprise, surprise that this is something I did? Then, childish excitement waves across me as I realise that the work is live and out there in the world. These courses may be taken by people far and wide, and so this feels like a big wave.

It is fair to say that creating these summaries was an absolute sweet spot for me. Over the years my work and life has enabled me to harness a lot of knowledge, information, and experiences about mental health. And, whilst my academic knowledge is not a patch on the depth of Dr Rezaie’s academic learning, I do believe I made a pretty good comrade to co-create these visual summaries with.

However, I was stunned on completion when Dr Rezaie stated I was officially the co-author of these visual summaries alongside Dr Rezaie and Dr Heath. As a graphic facilitator, my work is ordinarily signed as the visual creator of the work but not ordinarily as the co-creator or the content itself, for this, I am incredibly humbled and damn proud.

I hope these courses and these visual summaries serve many purposes; to support the learning and questioning for those taking the courses and also to serve as a point of reference for further debate and ongoing questioning.
And, if you are reading this, your comments, questions, ideas, and thoughts would be very welcome.

The course description states ‘These free, advanced level courses serve as an introduction to Masters level study in neurosciences and mental health. They will help you to consider some of the key issues around diagnosis, causes and interventions for anxiety and depression from biological, psychological and social science perspectives.’

The Introduction to mental health science course can be located here; https://www.open.edu/…/m…/introduction-mental-health-science
This links for the conclusion section of each of the three courses where the summary graphics can be found are below;

Exploring Anxiety module https://www.open.edu/…/…/exploring-anxiety/content-section-6
Exploring Depression module https://www.open.edu/…/exploring-depressi…/content-section-6
Anxiety and Depression module https://www.open.edu/…/exploring-the-rela…/content-section-7 Warning in advance, a slightly long post.