Since its founding in 1987, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has fought tirelessly to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide through research, education and advocacy. The year 2021 was no different. But two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the AFSP community — like so many of us — was feeling burned out.
With collective exhaustion felt among many of its volunteers, advocates, researchers and staff, the AFSP team wanted to protect its own community’s mental health by making sure not to overload the 2021 annual report. AFSP was looking for an undemanding project — both to produce and to peruse. How could the report feel gentle and inviting, rather than information-heavy or insensitive after another difficult year for our collective mental health?
We knew we could leverage work that the AFSP team had already done to create this year’s annual report story. Building on their #MentalHealth4All campaign from earlier that year, as well as their ongoing work to encourage sometimes-difficult conversations about mental health and suicide, we developed a narrative (and microsite) structure around deepening the conversation in 2021.
We wove together volunteer interviews that had already been conducted into a “dialogue” about why creating a world with mental health for all is vital, which opened both the print and digital versions of the report. A soothing pastel gradient created from tints of AFSP’s vibrant palette set the tone throughout our design, inspiring a sense of calm in readers. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we also enlisted our project team’s favorite photographer, Jackie Russo Jaquez, to take remote portraits over Zoom, just like we did in 2020.