What makes your idea unique?
The novelty of this idea is that a simulation will build awareness in a way that is both powerful and educational for those who do not understand mental health. I have practiced mental health counseling in a major metropolis area and am now practicing in a small rural area. Within both venues I have found that the greatest barrier to effective treatment is a lack of timely and appropriate referrals. This is due, to a large degree, because of 1- a lack of awareness of what mental health problems are all about and 2 - a lack of understanding that mental health conditions are truly a disorder. Many people, professional and lay, consider mental health as a choice, one which the person suffering can simply make the choice to be better. It is a common belief that people should "learn to get over it." If we could increase awareness and understanding of mental illness issues with key stakeholders, I truly believe those key stakeholders would make referrals for treatment which are more timely and appropriate to the needs of their clients, consumers, customers, family, friends, etc...
Through the use of technology and experiential activities, we could develop a brief mental health 'simulation' which would provide participants with a first hand encounter of the difficulties and struggles men and women who have a mental health problem are dealing with. The simulation could include the more commonly diagnosed mental health disorders and it should be immediately followed up with a debriefing and education about the basic diagnostic criteria of the disorders which the participant encountered. With this hightened awareness of mental illness, the participants should be encouraged to make a timely referral.
The difficulties of creating a simulation include creating an experience that could capture the true nature of each disorder. I believe this can be addressed with creative use of technology, experiential activities, and proper education.