Cartoon showing a person with cake splashed all over their face.

"Let them eat cake," feat. workplace mental health

The upside down world of workplace mental health training programmes.

Tanmoy Goswami

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Content warning

This piece contains references to a 'tear gun' – a gun that converts human tears into miniature pellets – created by a design scholar as a cultural artefact. It may be triggering for anyone affected by gun violence. 

Yi-Fei Chen didn't want to be a hero. All she wanted was to study design at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where she'd arrived from her home country Taiwan. Back home, Chen had been taught obedience and respect for authority. She struggled to adjust to her new milieu, where outspokenness was the norm. When a tutor gave her extra work but not enough time, Chen knew it was unreasonable but couldn't push back. Then one day in class, the institute's dean accused her of being unprepared. Chen broke down. Her politeness, she realised, had become her weakness. "I turned my back to the others," she says, "because I did not want people to see me crying."

What Chen did next will blow your mind. She designed a gun that scooped up her tears from her face via suction tubes and froze them into tiny pellets. Chen's tear gun made waves in design circles, and she became a bona fide design icon.

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