Improving Mental Health for Monmouth County
Create an accessible and intuitive action center so the young adults of Monmouth County can find and use the mental health resources they need in order to improve their lives.
User research and analysis, persona and journey map creation, prototyping, branding, and interaction design.
In 2017 my home county, Monmouth County, enlisted JANUS Solutions to conduct a Needs Assessment to identify the current state of human needs, how they are being met, and understand the current available resources. In this assessment, the only recommendation for the young adult population was to “increase the availability of outpatient mental health services” (51). And over the course of 4 years they did just that. But, Deputy Freeholder Director Sue Kiley said in September of 2020, “that there are plenty of available resources — people are just afraid to ask where and how to find and use them.”
How could it be that in an increasingly digital world, people struggle to find and use mental health services? So I decided to do some research of my own. I asked 26 young adults in the Monmouth County area two questions:
Of the 26 young adults I surveyed, 12 of them also agreed to a brief interview about where they are in life, their mental health, and current resources they are aware of and using.
“In high school, it would’ve been great to have these resources all in one place or for my guidance counselor to give me a one pager.“
23 year-old resident of Monmouth County, NJ
Understanding the Research
From the data collected, I created “Stressed Out Susan” to aggregate my data and help me keep the user at the center of my process. Susan would serve as a potential user.
I also created a journey map to represent my ideal user flow of a potential solution. At this point I’m treating each thought and emotion of my user as a hypothesis that I will test with a prototype.
First, I decided to create a low-cost and low-resolution prototype in order to test my hypotheses. I used sharpie and paper to communicate my idea to three users during a usability test. In each session, I asked the user to think out loud and made sure that they knew I was testing the design, not them.
I received feedback from my participants that helped inform my next design decisions. I learned that gender would be a valuable thing to include in the profile and that I can broaden the meditation category to include a variety of mindfulness activities. But, perhaps the most important piece of feedback I received was that users want to be able to use a service in the app.
Armed with this feedback, I decided to build a higher resolution prototype. I decided to teach myself Figma to build my prototype. Below are digital frames with buttons that link to interactions. Not all interactions are drawn out and not all frames have been created.
I believe this new home page will allow the user to find the resource they are looking for faster and eliminates terms like inpatient and outpatient which a young adult might not have heard before. I am currently testing this higher resolution prototype with my target market. The next steps will be to implement the feedback to make the prototype better and run a final round of usability tests. I then plan to present this to my county board as a potential solution to the identified problem.