In the United States, Vibrant Emotional Health works to provide valuable support and services for people experiencing mental health challenges or crises. Having established that digital was a good way to reach and support more people, they approached ustwo with a pro bono project to reimagine their existing service in a way that could be scaled up significantly and quickly.
Vibrant Emotional Health administers the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides call and chat support for those in emotional distress or suicidal crisis. On occasions when there is a queue to chat with a counselor, those in crisis are directed to The Safe Space, which provides a virtual place where people can access clinically proven coping tools or distraction techniques. The Safe Space is a reassuring experience - it has been mindfully shaped to serve people looking for help both for themselves and for others, with resources surfaced in ways that reassure, educate and lift some of the pressure people may feel when seeking support.
Audience diversity and sensitivity
No two people are the same. There are, however, commonalities that we uncovered during our discovery phase, in which we learned about people’s contexts, feelings, fears and goals when they come to The Safe Space. We made design decisions with the aim of easing psychological pressures, soothing and distracting them as they waited — including the colour palette and an interactive background to provide passive interactivity. We also made sure that emergency information was permanently visible no matter how users navigate. The entire site is built for audience diversity and to avoid overwhelming people - serving as an additional resource to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
One of Vibrant Emotional Health’s most important goals was to cater to all people, with different mindsets and needs. When people land on the site, they are asked whether they’re seeking advice for themselves or for someone else, and their answer influences the rest of their visit. People suffering a crisis themselves will see just one resource surfaced at any one time, with the ability to scroll to more if they wish. They can also distract themselves with the interactive background and restful audio, which is easily switched on/off to avoid overstimulation. Those seeking help for someone else will be able to use the site as a library - a focused environment where they can browse topics to find and share the information they need.
Designing for sustainable growth
“Digital tools increasingly play an important role in improving mental health. ustwo helped us redesign a solution that we can grow and scale while enabling users to more easily and effectively obtain the support they need to help themselves during times of crisis. The Safe Space is a go-to self-help mental health digital resource that enables Vibrant to achieve our aims of helping people when, where and how they need it.”
The Safe Space is now helping support more people as they manage mental health crises, whether it’s their own or that of someone close to them. This easily accessible and mobile-friendly site enables Vibrant Emotional Health to expand its digital offerings across the organisation.
Looking towards the future, Vibrant Emotional Health will be able to build and iterate using the data that ustwo has enabled them to collect. Gathering real time feedback from a group of users that historically we couldn’t validate our assumptions against, means that The Safe Space can be honed and tailored to better suit the users of tomorrow.