The Quest for Empowerment


This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.


Setting goals and achieving them creates the defining moments of our lives. Every major objective that we seek out and do the work to complete brings a sense of satisfaction and glory that, in my opinion, is found nowhere else. Upon observation of struggling students at my school, I thought of how I could use that accomplishment process to their advantage; a system designed for poor attitudes regarding the classroom setting and the cyclical failure therein resulting.


I find that many students in my high school really “hate” certain classes that they are taking, not necessarily out of disinterest or a genuinely disdainful relationship with a teacher (although they may be present as resulting effects), but out of a poor attitude as it relates to performance. Likewise, poor initial or continued performance may lead to disappointment, and therefore a poor attitude towards the class, teacher, etc. or maybe even life and self; all are interconnected. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand problems created by depression and immense sadness, and I don’t wish it on anybody. The true challenge came with creating a system by which students can take part in a rejuvenating program to change their outlook on a troubling subject, and hopefully create a positive chain reaction. Using conversations with parents, a psychoanalyst, research into mental health organizations and neuroscience done throughout the course, observations among friends, classmates, and their parents about the situation, and personal experience, I’ve found a launch point which holds a strong basis in these diagrams. Said one psychologist, “Find ‘the place.’ Get people genuinely active and doing something…to showcase their talents.”



*One of the meditation songs I plan to use.

Note: If the student simply has a carefree attitude towards the class rather than a bad one, the goal system should still provide incentive enough if he/she feels the positive effects of accomplishment. Ultimately, it’s up to the student.



Moving forward, I will likely ask more professionals and students regarding this topic in order to gain a better analytical and contextual understanding, starting with you all. How can I improve on my idea, its concept, and how to bring it into action? Do you have any ideas on possible activities or additions to the program, or even who to ask next? I would love to hear, and thank you for your time!

– Henry Barden


Various Interviews with Students

Mental Health Professionals including:

Dr. Anthony F. Vitiello, Ph.D.

Dr. Saszhy Valentine

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