Attitudinal barriers have led to roadblocks to accessing mental health services and treatment. Young black adults have minimal understanding of mental illness.
Finding a therapist that understands cultural context
People from the black community often find that mental health services in the U.K. are not sympathetic to their individual needs. Lack of cultural awareness can result in people receiving poor quality treatment from practitioners and institutions.
Funding to help pay for therapy
Full flexible choice comes at a cost. The average price of therapy is around £55. It is difficult to have the financial flexibility to not only begin therapy, but to allow for continuation of therapy.
Reimagining mental health care
With this in mind, our ultimate goal was to ensure the journey of mental health is as it should be: simple, human, and accessible.
Establish a presence
By combining a strong brand with innovative ideas and creative communication, we can begin to promote and normalize mental health care within the black community.
Build a simple product
With an easy-to-use directory, we can simplify the process of finding a black therapist for members of our community.
Process, Process, Process
Right away, we looked to existing mental health care services to learn how needs were being catered to and what was lacking. Once we had the big picture, our findings helped us define objectives and scope.
Pave a path of least resistance
I was struck by the bulkiness of existing services. Finding the search filter, a core feature, took a bit of effort. Readability should not be an issue. Moving forward, we would design Recovr with clarity in mind. Clarity for us looked like clear interactions with clean design elements and a consistent environment that is easy to navigate from anywhere.
Communicate a comprehensive brand identity
When dealing with health, there’s often a sentiment of intimidation. We want people to feel at ease. We were influenced by Oscar, a health insurance company, to break this stigma by also adopting a personable visual language.
Work in harmony
When working with early stage startups, it’s important to minimize design and development time. Solidifying a design system as a common language between design and engineering teams would help us all stay on the same page.
We reminded ourselves that those with a lack of understanding may view mental health care as a disconcerting matter. Making the first impression is everything. To be well received, the spotlight was put on mental health care education, convenience, and accessibility.
Distilling a therapist’s professional narrative into just a few lines was an exercise in hierarchy. We didn’t want to overload the users with too much information or scare them off with therapist jargon. As we designed we asked–What’s the most important thing for someone to understand here? How do we get to simple and obvious? Since users define criteria, it’s just a matter of reflecting these specifications in such a way that encourages engagement.
A therapist’s profile provides more insight into their practice. Building on top of the profile cards, we introduced an airy environment with tons of whitespace for an easy reading experience.
And that's a wrap
The entire process was fast and experimental. We moved quickly from user research through wireframes, design and development to an MVP and prototype. In the end, we came up with a solution that we feel made mental health care easier to understand, more accessible, and convenient for the black community.
To wrap up, I learned a lot from working on Recovr. In driving a mission that cares deeply about its people, I learned the importance of designing with inclusivity in mind.
Startups are hard. Unfortunately, Recovr was never released to the public, but I’m proud of the work we did and grateful for the opportunity. I’d like to thank the Recovr team for all of their support. Thanks Sait for steering us with such great passion. And thank you Ben, Michael, Alegria, Magdalene, and Eugene for all the feedback.