Even before I applied to graduate school, I knew that I wanted to focus my thesis on mental health. A few years ago, I attended a presentation at NYU’s Tech Summit 2018 where an NYU ITP graduate presented their thesis work. The student developed a tool that tracked their eyes using their webcam and collected and analyzed all of the data to help understand stressors and anxiety and the things that caused them.

I was so inspired and moved by this thesis presentation that I decided once the presentation ended that I would apply to grad school for the following Fall semester knowing good and well, I, too, wanted to study mental health. But what did that actually mean? Mental health can mean a lot of things for different people. For me, mental health has been a journey. It’s been a journey that I embarked on about 5 years ago when I first started therapy, which has been truly and genuinely life-changing. I started with regular talk therapy before I found a new therapist and moved on to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and then it was time for an SSRI. Since I first started therapy after a horrible breakup 5 years ago, I built a nice toolbox to help me cope with my own anxiety and depression. I’d like to wrap up this toolbox and share it with the rest of the world.

When I interviewed with Scott as part of the application process, very nervously I explained that I wanted to develop a physical device, like a watch, that would be triggered when it notices you are having a panic attack. (I honestly could’ve used this device during that interview.) However, since then, I’ve sort of moved away from that idea with the development of the Apple Watch, which includes an ECG monitor, a breathing app, and a mindfulness app. And that’s just for the Apple Watch! So many other devices and apps have been created since like Calm and Headspace.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been collective healing that began before the pandemic but has blossomed to help remove the stigma that surrounds mental health. This collective healing has helped people cope with all of the stress, fear, and sadness that came with the pandemic.

So where does this leave me? What kind of research still needs to be done? What does the world still need in terms of mental health? Is it access? Is it education? I am not sure but I am looking forward to finding out.

For this week I decided to focus on Chapter 3 in “The Craft of Research” by Wayne Booth. Most importantly, “FROM AN INTEREST TO A TOPIC” to help me craft my topic.

I will report back soon!



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Jennifer Novicki

Process blog for my M.S. candidacy in the Integrated Digital Media program @ the NYU Tandon School of Engineering