Our methods aligned with the Design Thinking process with Equity-Centered Community Design (ECCD) approach. Given that we began with empathy assumption mapping, sought to understand barriers related to power and privilege in accessing mental health resources, critically unpacked the lack of representation in mental health professionals, and addressed the stigma of mental illness.
We've started with creating an empathy assumption mapping to have a quick, digestible way to illustrate user attitudes and behaviors on mental health support. This method helped us to narrow down on scope and generate interview scripts to further develop our research.
We've conducted three semi-structured interviews to understand how women of color in underrepresented minorities access mental health resources and what makes them feel difficult on their mental health support.
By affinity mapping and synthesizing our data, we have observed that underrepresented minorities have difficulty connecting with mental health services due to:
"I'm too busy... there's already a lot of stuff that I need to do right now and [seeking out resources] would just add another thing" (p1)
Disconnect with therapists
“therapists are… not easily accessible, sometimes because maybe they're booked up or just harder to find… so that's always been a bit of a barrier is like when you have to talk to white therapists.” (p2)
“I've gone to see therapists twice, only twice in my life just because they're really expensive.” (p3)
Relying on friends and families
"I think I felt like my family and friends are all have very open relationships, so I have people to turn to in my life." (p3)
We visualized our user Anna’s cyclic experience in which she faces hardship in her life, seeks out support from her family and friends, and finds that this support is not enough to sustain a healthy mental state.
After ideation, we decided to build 3 key features: self mental health check-in, explore preferred professionals, and customize financial status. I was responsible to design wireframes that provide a quick gamified daily check-in that supports users to think about the struggles on their mental health independently without relying upon friends and families and allow them to share their status to connect with professionals.
The experiences consisted of a digital health platform in which women would log their health activities, observations, and concerns in a diary-like format. They could grant access to this information to mental health professionals, who could then monitor the woman’s health and, if needed, ask questions or write comments.
The app would allow women to better find the right professional for their unique needs. It offers a feature to help find professionals in their area and contact them when they’re ready. To address cost constraints, the platform would rely on participation from mental health professionals that can offer more affordable or pro bono mental health services.
It offers the women an ability to customize their preferences around how they want to engage with mental health professionals (e.g. remotely vs in-person, one-on-one vs in group sessions). To address cost constraints, they can also customize the price range and insurance coverages.
We received positive feedback on the design's simplicity and intuitiveness, and considerations for our color palette.
“I like how everything was straightforward and
nothing was too wordy… I didn’t feel overwhelmed”
“Maybe the color palette could be more vibrant? Yellow or orange…”