In March 2023, as part of a client project for my master's degree in Integrated Product Design, we were taked to look into improving the lives of to-be patients while they wait for their first appointment. How might we help patients prepare for their first therapy session - and take care of themselves in the meantime?
OUR FIRST findiNGS
Together with our client, the Hall-Mercer Community Mental Health Center, we started looking at the problem. We sent out surveys and got more than 30 responses about the topic, jumped on calls with more than 10 students who had gone through therapy, and did literature review and online research, to find that one of the main issues was that the amount of information online about mental health self-care was overwhelming, and sometimes even worrying - people tended to self-diagnose, with problematic results.
Based on our insights, we came up with several potential solutions, including a website/app to help people prepare for their first appointment, plus take care of themselves in the meantime. We also came up with a community-focused service in which patients could connect and discuss topics relative to therapy, in order to share their experiences and learn from others. Our main value proposition was curating the content available online, with the help of mental health professionals, to offer our users a healthier journey to prepare for their first session, in different formats for different preferences of content consumption, and in a flow that didn't feel overwhelming.
Prototyping And ITERAting
Using Figma, and for our 'prepping for therapy' website idea, we created a prototype and started going through it with potential users. From that, we learnt a few interesting things.
First, our idea of relevant content turned out to not be what our users wanted. So we made some changes to the content for our second version.
Second, we also heard that our prototype users wanted personalized content - there is no "one fits all", so we introduced a feature to let users select which kinds of information they were interested in.
The last version and next steps
After editing our prototype, we ran it through the same users we had tested the first version with, plus some other potential users. They enjoyed the flow, and liked the personalization feature in the way we implemented it.
As potential next steps, we established that we would need to:
1) determine with our client which programs to introduce our product to,
2) do a deeper dive on the content we would include in the website, together with professionals,
3) iron out legal and HIPAA aspects to make sure that our website complies with the highest standards.
Aside from the last details, we also received feedback about an interesting possibility: merging our two main ideas:
a) the content website for preparing and staying healthy during the wait until the first session,
b) the community platform for people to share their experiences around therapy.
Copyright Daniel Fernández Castro (2023)