top of page
Artboard- with flipped images-min.png
Overview

Open Arms Mobile App Design

Role

UX Researcher

UX Designer

Duration

2 Months

Tools

  • figma
  • Abobe Photoshop

Challenge

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 - 

The Path to Creating Open Arms

From the beginning, our group knew we wanted to focus on the mental health challenges faced by the younger demographic, so we began by reflecting on our experiences with mental health. To gain more insight into the mental health support received at school, we conducted a survey and four interviews. We received 95 responses.

How would you rate your mental health?
Have you ever used campus health services?
Top line.png
Have you experienced difficulty getting help from campus health services?
What are some of the challenges you face when trying to get help? Check all that apply
What has your experience been with obtaining help from campus health services?

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?"

U of T, Freshman 

Age 19

What is a major deterrent to you seeking help from campus health services?

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. I've also had experiences with people subconsciously speaking down to me because of my accent.

SFU 3rd Year

Age 21

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 & Mental Health Providers) 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.

2Top line.png

- 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?

- What Are the Must-Have Features? - 

With many ideas and features in mind, I conducted dot voting with my team members on possible features to prioritize the most important features. The final features are created from multiple iterations based on team feedback and user testing. 

Student Interface
Student features.png
Counsellor Interface
Counsellor features.png
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. 

- 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. 

pAPER.png
How Can Students Get Better Help With Fewer Steps?
Userflow2.png
Removing the Excess to Ensure Counsellors Give Undivided Attention
Userflowco.png
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