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Open Arms Mobile App Design


UX Researcher

UX Designer


  • figma
  • Abobe Photoshop


2 Weeks


  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn


The COVID-19 lockdown has led to an increase in anxiety and isolation. My team was tasked with designing and developing an innovative and creative solution to combat the negative impacts on mental health and promote a safe way for people to receive much-needed mental help during these trying times.

The Solution

We designed Open Arms, a mobile app to connect Canadian students with the largest and most diverse group of mental health experts. It provides a faster, more efficient and inclusive path to mental wellness in universities.  The app reduces wait times and language barriers by connecting students with mental health experts (e.g. therapists, psychologists) around the world.

Key Learnings

When working on such a tight time constraint, it is crucial to invest more into pre-planning, as it helps prioritize the critical parts of the design process. Additionally, I learned how to make quick decisions with readily available information to maximize my time.

Show me the goods (i.e. Prototype)

Research & Persona

- Understanding the Mental Health Crisis in Canadian Universities - 

Why the Current Offerings Just Won't Do?

To better empathize with the mental health challenges faced during COVID-19, I reflected on my experience travelling and quarantining, and conducted four additional user interviews. At the beginning of the project, we were unsure of what route we wanted to take, so the insights from the interviews were used to identify the main problem and target users, University Students.

Young Confident Woman

U of T, Freshman

It is my first time living on my own, and my school does very little to explain how to interact with mental health services. The first question you get after waiting in a long line is a disinterested "Is it an emergency?" This makes me question the validity of my problem, "is it really that big an issue, or am I overreacting?"

College Student

SFU, Sophomore

There are just too many students for the number of counsellors we have! Plus, there is little catering for international students, it would be nice to speak to a counsellor that can speak another language because I find that there are some feelings I can't perfectly describe in English

Key Research Insights
  • Unnecessarily complex system makes it time-consuming to book an appointment through university platforms


  • Lengthy wait times to see a counsellor, even in crisis situations​

  • Feelings of confusion from being transferred to different locations & counsellors due to limited support.

  • Discriminatory and inadequate campus supports for students with disabilities and international students

  • Almost impossible to afford therapy after they've used up their free sessions

Persona & User Journey Development

Using the data collected from the research, I created a persona and user journey of our target users (University Students) to create a shared understanding of user needs, motivations, and pain points which would help us reduce personal bias when making design decisions.

The Pivot to Virtual & Online Telehealth Options

With a deeper understanding of the user needs, my next step was to research top telehealth brands used by individuals and Canadian universities to identify where they fail to meet student needs.

- Answering the Question "How Might We?" - 

Bridge the Gap Between Users and Their Goals?

From the journey map, I was able to translate pain points and challenges into the following user requirements and opportunities to inform our ideation towards potential design recommendations:

  • How might we create a sense of trust by giving control to users but making sure not to overwhelm them?

  • How might we deliver effective and personalized care in a timely manner?

  • How might we ensure a simple and easy-to-use experience?

  • How might we be inclusive of the diversity of our users?

Measure Success

Before I started creating layouts and mocking up screens, I consulted with the team to identify the healthcare considerations and constraints:

  • How might we collect user data while maintaining privacy and confidentiality?

  • How might we utilize artificial intelligence to provide care and reduce wait times while protecting users?

  • How might we create opportunities within the app to learn more about the users in order to serve them better?

  • How might we convey our value of transparency and accountability?

A Solution is Born

Introducing... Open Arms

Filling the Cracks in the System

With the target user study and market insights nailed down, we took into account all stakeholder needs and developed out our final product, Open Arms.

While brainstorming solutions for our personas, we identified a common theme of powerless within the current health offerings for students. The app emphasizes speed, ease and control by connecting Canadian University students with the largest and most diverse group of mental health experts worldwide. Its intuitiveness, personalized matching system and API integration eliminate the long wait times and confusion. 

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- Reducing Overwhelm with an Intuitive Flow - 

With numerous ideas and potential layouts in mind, I created multiple sketches and through feedback from the team established that the app needs a student and health expert interface to ensure complexities on both sides are eliminated. I then set out to create the structure of the app and establish a clear hierarchy. 

How Can Students Get Better Help With Fewer Steps?
Removing the Excess to Ensure Counsellors Give Undivided Attention
An Intuitive Flow

- Let's Start Building - 

Several ideas were transformed into a more tangible form by creating wireframes. I made sure the designs were not too detailed; leaving room to iterate and change aspects based on user feedback.

Student Interface
Counsellor Interface