Ending Silence: Breaking Generational Neglect in Mental Health

CSE 440 Staff
7 min readDec 13, 2023

Team: Renee Ruan, Aaleah Sijera Mendoza, Gai Wai Wong, Andy Thai

Team

Aaleah: Conducted user research, initialized design through sketching and prototyping, resulting in the development of a user-friendly website

Andy: Conducted user research, initialized design through sketching and prototyping, resulting in the development of a user-friendly website

Gai Wai: Conducted user research, initialized design through sketching and prototyping, resulting in the development of a user-friendly website

Renee: Conducted user research, initialized design through sketching and prototyping, resulting in the development of a user-friendly website

Problem Overview

When examining the challenge of adequately addressing the youth’s mental health concerns, various nuances must be considered. These factors include the individual’s cultural background, self identity, and socioeconomic status. We have placed a focus in our research on studying the mental health status of youth coming from immigrant families. After surveying and interviewing participants, we found that mental health is a stigmatized topic in many immigrant households, and immigrant parents may lack knowledge of mental health topics. Immigrant parents may grapple with their own traumatic experiences, hindering healthy communication. There are many reasons for this, including the lack of education among mental health and the geographic distribution of people living in certain areas where mental health support is lacking. This results in the youth community feeling more isolated, not knowing where to ask for help, and sometimes not having a place to seek aid. Also, many of these students are not allowed to speak about their own mental health and share with others, not only because of the lack of education, but the social stigma and the distrust of the social system. Therefore, these reasons have led to students whose parents are either immigrants or are immigrants themselves, tend to have a higher risk of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

Solution

We implemented our solution by creating a web application containing mental health resources available for youth to access. The web application contains a mental health assessment, which asks the youth to answer a series of questions regarding their mental health, and after they are finished, results are displayed about the insights to their own mental well-being. The web application features a mental health crash course, designed to help the youth gain clearer understanding of what mental health entails. Youth will have access to resources and strategies they can use to support their own mental health, including meditation exercises and journaling. The web application contains a chatting feature, which allows the youth to chat with trained volunteers about mental health and self-care related issues. Also, students have the option to ask any questions or concerns regarding the website below the four options.

Paper Prototype, Testing Process, Results

We wanted something accessible for kids 10–16 to use and since K-12 districts require students to own their own laptop, we decided to create a web application! We sketched our two tasks: Normalize mental health care and discussions surrounding mental health. And two — Develop a support system for mental health care. We used pieces of paper to do a mock website with interactive things like buttons, clicking onto a crash course, and viewing their results after taking an assessment.

After completing the paper prototype, we decided to do a usability test with youth that are around our target audience to see how they interact with it and see what we can improve on. One of the biggest key details to jot down was that kids in high school felt that the visualizations were more so catered for younger kids versus high schoolers. We also found a challenge with the formats of the buttons and making sure the “next” and “back” buttons are more clear to see for the users. Our solution to this was to have a function for the user to make an account and write their age. Once we know, the website will automatically cater to the age range and have a more sustainable visualization of the website. For example, 10 year olds will get Lotso as their partner for the crash course and 15 year olds will get plants as the design when doing the crash course. We also updated the “next” and “back” buttons to make it easier for users to use.

Another thing that participants were asking about was how it catered towards first-gen and immigrant youths. We decided to create a page after they do the assessment about their mental health and give them resources with therapists that specialize in POC and first-gen youths. That way, we could achieve our goal of making mental health an easier topic for kids to tell their parents about!

Digital Mockup

Our digital mockup was created using Figma, based upon revisions to our paper prototype after useability testing. We made revisions to spacing, alignment, color scheme and typography. We drafted our final digital mockup with the main design goal of simplicity, so that the user will have access to an intuitive interface. We altered our design to primarily use the colors green, yellow and red, in order to create cohesion between the various pages in our application. We also made several changes to specific pages and features in our final digital mockup.

The first change we made was adding a sign-in page for the user. Our original paper prototype design lacked a user sign-in page. We realized that this would be an issue because if users didn’t have access to their own account, their mental health assessment and crash course progress data could not be stored.

We also modified the layout and design of the crash course interface on our digital mockup. Compared to our paper prototype, we rearranged the images and text on the digital mockup to apply concepts of proximity and alignment to create an interface that is more user friendly. Also, the drag and drop images are now found in the right column, while the bear image and header text are found in the left column.

Finally, within each option page, we also changed the layout of elements on our digital mockup. We center aligned the option available to the user, and also made the button smaller so that it appears more like an actual button to the user, with different names and their respective purposes. Additionally, we also added a Questions button, allowing users to get more clarity if they need help navigating. Finally, the next and back buttons are placed in the two bottom corners (and aligned with the left and right margins), which is a more intuitive placement of the buttons.

Check out our digital mockup here: https://www.figma.com/file/RH6wMe0y1mX4LRF2gAKzpc/CSE-440---3e-(Digital-Mockup)?type=design&node-id=0%3A1&mode=design&t=4rQqiUgd9vMYl7Ti-1

Task 1: Normalize mental health care and discussions surrounding mental health.

Task 2: Develop a support system for mental health care.

Summary

Within many immigrant families, topics of mental health are often diminished or disregarded altogether, due to cultural differences and a lack of mental health education. In order to break the generational cycle of mental health neglect, we wanted to create a design that empowers youth to be able to seek out the mental health support they deserve. We learned through our user research that many youth coming from immigrant families feel reluctant to share their emotions with family and friends, and also lack other support systems with which they can rely on for support. Thus, we wanted to target this lack of support, as well as the idea that mental health discussion needs to be normalized in order to promote positive progress.

Our design “YOU in Youth” aims to combat both of those issues by creating a platform for youth to learn more about mental health and access resources for mental health support. Our goal is to not only to break that generational trend of not normalizing mental health, but being able to provide some education among students, especially students who are children of immigrants or are immigrants themselves. We hope that educating the younger generation, we can help inspire lasting change and encourage a more positive and willing attitude towards discussing issues of mental health.

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CSE 440 Staff

University of Washington Computer Science, Intro to Human Computer Interaction