MindTales: How to Ensure Emotional Well-Being with Mobile Design
A customer turned to us several months ago to work on a project aiming to make up for the loss of social life in a way that’s both comfortable to the user and efficient, targeting people who experience emotional challenges and mental health problems. The story of this initiative is a vivid example of how today’s IT community can fight serious global issues.
In 2021, the pandemic is not a new influence anymore. We all know that it has been shaping the economy of nations and organizations across the globe, causing an increasing number of companies in the IT sector to go remote. For example, Facebook’s management announced at the beginning of the pandemic that they were introducing a new, long-term work-from-home policy. Although the decision did have a number of benefits such as saving the cost of physical space and equipment, staff services, and logistics, what is often omitted when discussing the new practice is how employees respond to it. A lot of workers reported an increase in productivity at first since they didn’t have to spend time commuting to work anymore. As it became clear that the pandemic wasn’t going to end anytime soon, however, many people faced depression and anxiety.
Indeed, the problem is familiar to nearly everyone. What is there to be done, though? What could replace what we are missing most of all these days in lockdown when we cannot go out safely like we used to?
MindTales is a mental well-being platform driven by artificial intelligence that offers counseling services and helps users contact mental health professionals.
Our initial mission was rather vague: the project was to “make people feel better.” Our primary task at that early stage was thus to work out a step-by-step plan and implement it on the interface level.
We started with research, the vital step that many companies choose to skip, jumping to visual concepts straightaway. We feel that to ignore the preliminary research is a mistake, though. This stage is crucial as it enables us to identify the goals of the user as well as the company. We also have a look at what relevant competitors are doing to see what’s good and not so good about their products and how we could use their experience.
At this stage, we agreed with the customer to start working on an MVP (minimum viable product), making up a list of the functionalities required to meet user needs.
The next thing we did was interview the project’s potential audience. The customer was also consulting a mental health practitioner to collect recommendations on effective treatment of mental problems. We were to implement the techniques in a mobile product. Simple as it may sound, the task involved a number of challenges. MindTales was to offer popular emotional management methods such as Emotional Diary, Thoughts on Trial, Core Belief, Focused Breathing, Body Scan Meditation, and STOPP.
The example below illustrates what the target audience is like and what problems and challenges the users are likely to face. A customer journey map was made up to identify key user touchpoints for the product.
We analyzed a number of apps with a similar purpose and advised the customer to include a minimum course to make the beginning of the user’s journey more intuitive. Unfortunately, apps that offer the full range of solutions straightaway often feel overwhelming and confusing.
Our next step was to pack our routines into a set of step-by-step courses. Apart from those, the user can contact a therapist who specializes in a particular sphere or practice at any time for an appropriate video, audio, or text consultation.
It’s worth mentioning that at some point the user asked us to include an urgent help functionality for suicidal thoughts. Dedicated questionnaires such as PHQ 7 and (another questionnaire), developed by professional psychologists to measure anxiety and depression, were used to diagnose the need for emergency support.
The mobile version of the app consisted of 200+ screens, all of which underwent complete redesign more than once.
When the interactive prototypes for design testing were ready, we received another request. This time we were to design a therapist dashboard that would enable mental health professionals to contact their patients through web apps. We included an event calendar to show any appointments for a given day.
Besides, functionality was added with the help of which therapists can send their patients additional exercises for more customized, diagnosis-specific treatment. We completed the project, and the search for investors began.
In the end, the customer received a fully designed patient-and-therapist platform. Six months of investor search yielded $750,000 and contracts with a number of clinics and health practitioners. A closed beta of the app was released on Play Market and Apple Store.
The half-year we spent working on this product taught us that depression is very real. More importantly, the problem is clearly gaining momentum, which necessitates assistance from specialized institutions, governments, businesses, and individuals who have the potential to improve the psychological well-being of people. We, therefore, take pride in the modest yet hopefully valuable contribution that we made to everyone’s mental health and well-being.
The mobile application is live in the App Store.
You can view the full case study on Behance.