Talking about risk and resilience

A stacking rings activity to stimulate conversation around risk & resilience.

Our stacking rings activity was inspired by Dr Jehannine Austin's jar analogy. 
We are born with a certain amount of genetic vulnerability (yellow balls), but over time, we also accumulate stressful experiences (orange triangles), which can tip us over into an active episode of mental ill-health (full jar).
Protective factors such as exercise and good sleep add 'rings' to the top of our mental health jar, and expand its capacity. 


Empty jar that gets filled with yellow balls (genetic factors) and orange triangles (environmental factors). Mental ill-health occurs when the jar is full.     Rings representing protective factors, can be stacked on top of jar to make it taller (representing recovery from mental ill-health)


For a family science festival audience, we adapted this analogy into a stacking rings activity. 
We use this activity to initiate conversations about mental health and resilience. 

Red, yellow and green rings stacked on a pole. Six dice representing the genetic, environmental, lifestyle and resilience factors that affect mental health


The stick represents a 'person'. 

Each roll of the dice adds a 'risk factor' (genetic, environmental or lifestyle). 
Some of the rings are thick (high risk), others are thin (low risk)
Sometimes you do not add a ring at all. 

If the top of the stack goes above the red line, the 'person' has become unwell. 

However, if you role a resilience factor such as meditation or social connections, you can move the red line (band) up the stick. 


Risk and Resilience

Much of our research is focused around gaining a better understanding of how these factors interact. 

This activity was delivered at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in April 2019. 

Man and small boy play stacking rings activity.       

It will also be delivered at: 
Doors Open Day at Edinburgh MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) on 28th September 2019
Midlothian Science Festival, Feel Good Science Day on 13th October 2019


Poster listing risk factors for mental ill-health