Making Kids Aware of Abnormal Psychology


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



I have grown up in a family and community very open and accepting of anyone and everyone; however, when I switched to the small bubble they call my private school, my whole life changed. Everyone in my school is pretty much the exact same and has been with the same people since primer (kindergarten, K5, call it what you may). I went to a public school for 6 years of my life and worked at a barn that specialized in hippo-therapy for anyone with mental or physical disabilities. I grew up around those with said disabilities and have never seen anyone different from myself. Seeing the lower school kids at my school discriminate against and make jokes about psychological abnormalities made me realize that this is a real issue that needs to be confronted and fixed… and so, my Catalyst Conference Project topic was born.

Image result for safe place

We all need a place where we feel safe to talk and listen. Why has society made it so that there are so few safe places? Let’s make our communities safe for a better, safer, more loving world.


My dad majored in psychology, so naturally he was the first one I went to on this topic. His view on my challenge and issue was that the children in our lower school are not exposed to the “real world” at a young enough age, so they think that our school is the real world and that is what real life is like. Another person I interviewed was a close family friend who works at the Meyers Center, a center for those with mental and physical challenges and abnormalities. She said that was is really important is learning from a young age what the real world is like and that not everyone is exactly the same like it is in our small private school. What is truly important is understanding other cultures and ways of life to truly understand what is going on in someone’s head and to be able to empathize with them. So many people are kicked out onto the streets who suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD, just to name a few. More people need to be aware of what people have gone through in order for the society we live in today to be a safe place for anyone with a psychological abnormality.



pie chart of depression

This is just one example of how people view mental abnormalities. So few people truly understand and are able to empathize with mental abnormalities, be it depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, anorexia, PTSD, the list truly goes on forever.

Image result for what anxiety feels like

We have all felt stress and some anxiety at some point in our lives, right? Imagine feeling that every waking moment, overthinking everything. We have all also felt like at any moment the world could end or that dog you’re scared of could barge into your room and eat you or that monster from that horror movie you just watched was going to come from under your bed and eat you. Imagine feeling that. All the time. Personally, I know people who struggle with anxiety and it can really ruin a person’s day, or even life.

Image result for normal and abnormal

Have you ever felt like an alien on your own planet? Like an outsider who can never really get inside? Out of touch with reality? Not knowing what is real and what is not? People who struggle with Schizophrenia have these daily struggles and many more that few people truly understand without a degree in psychology or being close to someone who suffers this mental illness.



I plan to work with administrators in the lower school to give a talk to the lower school students and to raise awareness and understanding of how to empathize. This class has taught me so much that I thoroughly hope to spread to everyone I can, because it is truly so important to be understanding and empathetic with anyone and everyone we come across, because you never know what they have gone through and no one ever knows what you are going through.

I will speak with the lower school students about what it means to sympathize versus what it means to empathize (sympathy- feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, versus empathy- the ability to understand and share the feelings of another). I plan to explain why we should understand and help with mental illnesses, rather than just feel bad for them and say “Sorry, buddy.” I know that as a young child in my community, you forget that not everyone has a Cadillac and goes to the Country Club for dinner every night, but I hope that I can help bring some light to these kids’ minds and help them to be more intelligent and ahead of the game.



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Watters, Ethan. Crazy like Us: the Globalization of the American Psyche. Free Press, 2011.

Holguin, Jazmyn. “13 Graphs Anyone Who’s Ever Been Depressed Will Understand.” Pinterest, 13 Aug. 2015.

“Anxiety Feels Like.”

“Tag Archives: Abnormal.” Tony Rojas Blog.


I would also like to thank my father for all of his insight and help and my family friend who helped me immensely in understanding the abnormalities of the psychological field.

Share this project
  1. April 26, 2018 by Grace.Arribas

    THis is such a great project and it does a wonderful job at summarizing many things we learned in the abnormal psychology class. You had great graphics and did a wonderful job depicting your ideas about what mental disorders have as a stigma and what they really do feel like. I also go to a private school and I hope that we are able to open up the doors to see more into abnormal psychology because it is important for people to be able to emphasize and understand mental disorders.

    • April 30, 2018 by Olivia Lantz

      Thank you! I really thought tying in private school would help people relate to my topic better!

  2. April 26, 2018 by Porter.Brown

    Great job Olivia! I really like your examples of the misconceptions of the world around us within our community at school. I think more people need to check out your project to understand what Abnormal Psych. is and how we should treat those different than us in our communities.

    • April 30, 2018 by Olivia Lantz

      Thanks Porter! I totally agree!

  3. April 29, 2018 by Anya.Weaver

    This is an excellent project! Your personal examples and solutions tied in very well with your topic, which I think is a very important one.

    • April 30, 2018 by Olivia Lantz

      Thank you so much!

  4. May 03, 2018 by Sofia

    Hi Olivia!

    This is a great project! I love how you included so much of your personal background in this. I think that your images also do a great job of illustrating the complexities in depression. If you had to pick one thing that your school could do to make this situation better, what would it be?

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