We were inspired by the mission of non-profits like the Loveland Foundation, which provides financial assistance to black women and girls nationally seeking therapy. Additionally, the (necessary) social distancing and isolation caused by the coronavirus has had a tremendous impact on mental health and exacerbated existing inequities. Access to therapy has become increasingly more difficult, especially for underserved communities who compose the majority of essential workers, as the demand for mental health services has risen during the pandemic. Individuals, such as the student behind the @browngirltherapy Instagram account, have taken it upon themselves to create spreadsheets to aid individuals requiring therapists with cultural competency in contacting the dwindling list of therapists still accepting patients. Our app seeks to amplify the reach of these services and simultaneously provide features to help individuals integrate their wellness plans with their busy lifestyles.
What it does
The app's purpose is to increase access to organizations and mental health services that provide individuals with the appropriate care at an affordable price. We included three key features designed to aid individuals in crafting mental health plans that could be realistically integrated into their lives; a goal-setting feature, a daily calendar of events section where you can also log feelings and events experienced that day, and a section dedicated to remote communication and scheduling between a therapist and their client. Users can indicate certain preferences, such as low-cost sessions, shared identities with their therapist, or specialty when filling out the app’s therapist survey, which will generate multiple profiles of culturally competent therapists willing to offer sessions at a reduced cost if specified. The logs allow users to track the progression of their wellness goals as well as document how they are managing their mental health. The goal-setting feature gives users the opportunity to create mental health goals and personal goals, consolidating their needs in one place.
How I built it
We started off by asking, why don’t some individuals go to therapy? Without time to conduct thorough pre-project research, we tried to brainstorm the lifestyle factors that are potential obstacles for individuals seeking therapy. Some of the issues we considered when designing were financial status, employment, insurance coverage, costs, therapists with cultural competence for those who come from diverse, ethnic backgrounds, and remote communication. From there, we concocted the features for our app that we believed would allow individuals to balance most, if not all, of their lifestyle needs while scheduling time to address their mental health needs.
Challenges I ran into
Design inconsistencies cost us a lot of time and we should have fleshed out a more standardized style guide with font sizes and colors at the beginning. In addition, team communication and individual availability impeded some of our progress as we had a teammate quit the team the night before the project deadline due to personal time management reasons.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Some accomplishments that we’re proud of include creating 16 high-fidelity screens that balance functionality with an aesthetic design in 2 days with 3 team members. Additionally, given the limited amount of time to perform generative research, our design utilizes a color palette informed by mental health research on colors that reduce anxiety or stress. Furthermore, collaborating with a team of unknown students to successfully create a product that addresses the social justice issues we’re all passionate about is one of our biggest accomplishments to date!
What I learned
All of us became more familiar with using Figma, such as the components feature, creating interactions, and utilizing the alignment guidelines to create consistency across our designs. Moreover, we gained more practice in balancing our goals/wants with what we can realistically accomplish given the timeline of the project. The timeline acted as a sort of filter for some of our design decisions, as the deadline influenced us to prioritize function over aesthetics in some situations.
What's next for Mind matters
Some of our goals for the future of this app would be to partner with nonprofits that provide roadmaps or application processes for financial aid for mental health services. In terms of new features for the app, we would want to provide users with an option to automatically send their logs (physical activity, sleep, medication, water intake, moods, physical symptoms, etc.) to their therapist so as to increase the productivity of the therapy sessions. We would also look to conduct usability tests to understand how real-life humans would use our app and adjust our features appropriately. Also, we would add more content to the survey to gather more information from users to provide more effective therapist and wellness recommendations.