Good Vibes Experiment materials released as open-source

This week, Flinders University released the Good Vibes Experiment materials to the general public.

The Good Vibes Experiment is a student-led mental health focused campaign that I got to work on and it is really cool to see it released to the public.

We started work on it in June 2020 and released it within Flinders in 2021. The campaign is still active at Flinders.

The campaign focuses on positive mental health and the kinds of activities that people can engage in to build positive mental health.

The centrepiece of the campaign is an Activity Book that introduces readers to 20 evidence-based wellbeing tactics and 40+ activities inspired by those tactics. The goal is for the reader to play and experiment with these activities as an entry point into considering what kinds of wellbeing activities could become a more stable feature in their life. What resonates for one person might not resonate with another, so experimentation and sampling different ideas is important.

You can check out the Activity book

The 20 wellbeing tactics are broad domains of action that have a literature connecting them to positive wellbeing and mental health outcomes. They were created on the basis of the excellent work of two mental health organisations: Greater Good Science Center and Be Well Co. Flinders has an ongoing relationship with Be Well Co to deliver their flagship Be Well Plan program to students. Doing the Be Well Plan is a great step-up for students who interact with the campaign, resonate with the core values and want to learn more.

The tactics are as follows. If you know the wellbeing/positive mental health space, you’ll see that these 20 categories capture many of the therapeutic activities regularly taught to people.

  1. Meditation and mindfulness. Learning how to be present and focusing your attention.
  2. Seeking out awe. Taking moments to bask in the amazingness of something or someone.
  3. Finding your meaning and purpose. Connecting to a purpose higher than you and understanding what you want to contribute to the world.
  4. Future orientation. Taking the time to visualise the future you want for yourself and setting things in place to bring it into reality.
  5. Understanding yourself. Learning more about the person you are, your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and personality.
  6. Developing and expressing gratitude. Cultivating a sense of appreciation of the people and things in your life and the experiences you’ve had.
  7. Building and supporting connections with others. Building and nurturing supportive relationships with friends, family, colleagues and even the a random stranger!
  8. Developing self and other compassion. Extending understanding and kindness to yourself and other people during difficult times.
  9. Forgiveness. Letting go of difficult thoughts, feelings and ideas about someone who has wronged you.
  10. Expressing kindness. Engaging in regular acts of kindness towards self and others.
  11. Seeking help. Knowing when and how to reach out for assistance.
  12. Learning and teaching. An ongoing willingness to learn as well as pass on the knowledge you’ve gained to others.
  13. Building a healthy lifestyle. Looking after your body and mind with healthy habits.
  14. Spending time in nature. Connecting regularly with the natural world.
  15. Having fun. Spending more time engaging in activities that bring a true smile to your face.
  16. Facing your fears. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
  17. Deliberate practice. Getting better at something through focused practice.
  18. Enhancing productivity. Learning to work smarter, not harder and increasing your productivity and efficiency.
  19. Expressive writing and art. Processing your feelings and reactions to things through writing and art.
  20. Thinking about thinking. Learning more about the role that your thoughts and beliefs play in shaping your world and how to change or challenge your thinking.

The discussion of positive mental health is intended to complement mental health promotion efforts that focus on mental illness. People should have the knowledge, skills and tools to manage negative emotional states as well activate positive emotional states: awe, joy, happiness, connection, compassion, confidence.

The open source release means that anyone can access the underlying digital assets (images, book content, designs) and utilise them to build a campaign for themselves, in their own setting. Or maybe you just want to be inspired by the core idea and then go and riff on that idea in your own way.

We suspect that the materials are best suited to educational settings: high schools, universities, colleges. However, I am excited to see where the materials might end up.

To finish up, I’d like to give a shout-out to the team that made this happen: Chris, Jess, Steph, Mango Chutney (design agency) and all the student wellbeing ambassadors whose ideas were the basis of the campaign. I tend to work alone but this collective co-design effort created something far better than I could have done myself.

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