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MHA's Chief Brand Officer Presents at Mental Health America National Convention 2021

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

Sheana Firth, Chief Brand Officer, MHAIRC

MHA’s Chief Brand Officer, Sheana Firth, traveled to Washington D.C. to attend and present at Mental Health America’s National Conference in June. Her breakout presentation entitled “Redefining & Reframing: Using Human Centric Design to Inform Culture and Community”, focused on teaching attendees to utilize the non-linear process of ‘Design Thinking’ to inform development and promotion of services, innovate marketing initiatives to increase community awareness, and further define a company’s value proposition. Mental Health America’s 2021 Annual Conference focused on the topic “From Resiliency to Recovery” which, of course, meant a heavy concentration on the pandemic and its long-reaching effects. As for Firth’s presentation, she explains “COVID19 actually placed world-wide focus on ‘Design Thinking’ by way of delivery models and public safety (even if few people knew to call it that) and it forced many businesses to take the time to analyze their customers and their own business models in ways that had not been approached or considered before. That thought process is the basis for human centered design thinking!”

Attendees learned how to objectively re-evaluate current programs and protocols and apply human-centric framing to develop new, more effective and efficient ways to approach community needs while building a greater capacity for the future. Firth demonstrated how to apply human centered design thinking to smaller processes first, then guide the group through the technique using larger enquiries. “With practice, employing the strategy behind the technique becomes automatic and natural.” Firth states “design thinking is learning HOW to approach current methods through process innovation. It informs the change.” According to, what separates human centered design from other problem-solving methods is “its obsessive focus on understanding the perspective of the person who experiences a problem, their needs, and whether the solution that has been designed for them is truly meeting their needs effectively or not.”

“The foundation for this type of problem solving is EMPATHY”, explains Firth. “Human centered design focuses on people’s everyday thinking, emotions, and behavior. The practice can reveal unexpected results through judgment-free observation, ingenuity, application, and iteration. It’s fascinating what you learn when you know what questions to ask and WHY you’re asking them.”

MHAIRC has been active in Indian River County since 1978. In 2007, they opened the Walk-In & Counseling Center in Vero Beach, Florida. The Walk-In & Counseling Center is unique in that it offers immediate access to emotional and behavioral health care for children and adults on a walk-in basis for the initial visit, and by appointment for continuing treatment and services. They also run three Drop-In Centers for people with severe and persistent mental illness in three counties – Indian River, Martin, and Okeechobee counties. These centers are open 365 days per year.

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