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Brief Published: 10 Apr 2018

Interactive Artwork Aims to Boost Mental Wellbeing

Intangible Goods

A vending machine in Sydney is selling customers small packets of advice based on their mood, in a bid to get more people talking about mental health.

The art installation, created by Elizabeth Commandeur and Mark Starmach, dispenses envelopes the size of chocolate bars and crisp packets filled with homemade cards and activity ideas to improve emotional wellbeing. The packs have been designed in collaboration with medical professionals to combat common mental health problems.

Visitors pay A$2 ($1.50) for a "snack" that matches their specific emotional need, choosing from packs such as Connection, Friendship, Reassurance, Spontaneity, Bravery, Structure and Purpose. A Spontaneity packet includes instructions to burst a blown-up bag next to someone's ear, while Belonging asks the customer to stick three stars on a small map of Sydney at locations that mean something special to them.

"In this fun, interactive artwork, we hope people find an unexpected way to talk about the things we all need more of in our minds, and increase their awareness of an important cause," Commandeur said in a statement.

Called Intangible Goods, the artwork will be moving around Sydney's central business district until April 8. All proceeds are being donated to organisations combating mental illness and stigma.

The installation confirms that discussion around mental health is now firmly in the spotlight as people become increasingly proactive about safeguarding their emotional wellbeing. The wellness economy is expanding rapidly, with a focus on respite and self-optimisation – see Nurturing Mental Health and Working the Wellness Dollar for more.