IDK - Case Study

A platform for discussion on the troubles of undiagnosed mental health.

Introduction

IDK is a website which presents participants with potentially familiar scenarios based on issues that come with a state suffering with mental health issues that have not been diagnosed. Users will answer simple questions to see where their answers lie in correspondence to the rest of the community from which discussion is encouraged by allowing participants to leave comments on each question or topic.

The site has three main sections, Questions/Topics, Featured Content, and a Resources section. The idea is to encourage users to become comfortable talking about issues in the discussion portion of each topic, especially those which they may identify with. From there they would hopefully feel confident in using the resources section to find a starting place of where to seek help.

Why? A Gap in Discussion

The conversation around mental health has improved greatly in recent years, however it is not complete. The unique issue of undiagnosed mental health has existed for a very long time, but has not been properly addressed.

It’s a personal matter.

I found myself questioning my own mental health condition frequently in the past few years, however I have never been diagnosed, and therefore I have never been treated for anything. I decided to conduct research around this topic. It is very niche, something I especially found throughout this research. So while my research was not hugely insightful, I knew that I must not be the only one struggling with the state of the unknown. What became very frustrating was the cycling of thoughts because of this ambiguous nature. I began to question the legitimacy of my own struggle which lead to more frustration and uncertainty of where to start, and through this uncertainty, I felt as though I couldn’t talk to anyone about these issues, because they weren’t solidified.

Process: Project Iterations

This project went through many iterations, from a visual diary to the final platform for discussion. Originally, I had set the project up to take an artistic approach by showcasing my own struggles through a visual journal website. Here I would pair visuals with a writing piece in hopes of immersing the viewer in a simulated version of things I had struggled with. I had identified five states or cycles which seemed to be unique to having some sort of struggle without being diagnosed, these were: The Non Beginning, Confusion, Numbness, Awareness, and Release.

Here are some examples of what the site was like in an art piece/journal format.

The trouble with this style of project is that it didn’t actually focus on helping others. It may have raised awareness in those who do not struggle with a state of being undiagnosed, but it would have stopped at that point and my goal was to create something that solved a problem. My original thought was that it would act as a conversation starting point, but then decided that if my goal was to start conversation, I should facilitate a way for people to have their own conversations, rather than pushing my experience onto them.

Process: Visual Essay

While they did not end up in the final project, I came away with some visually interesting pieces which now mean a lot to me.

A New Goal

With the demise of the personal diary site, a more structured goal could be set.

The goal of IDK is to shift the perception of those who feel helpless by facilitating discussion which could be beneficial to both the participants taking part in discussion, as well as future users of the site who find themselves in relatable situations.

This is where the different sections came into play, creating value for current users with the Questions and Resources sections, and for current and future users with the Features section. The features section would work by having users rate questions or the discussions on those topics by how useful they were. These would then be reviewed and posted to the features section to hopefully help as many people as possible.

Moving Forward

To take this project to completion, this concept would need to go into a user testing and feedback cycle in order to be truly useful to those who struggle with undiagnosed mental health issues. Admittedly, much of this project was developed based on personal experience and limited research, however I believe that it has the potential for real use and further development.

The resources section was difficult to create as the topic of mental health is quite sensitive, so again, further research must be completed in order to build something that is useful to its users.

IDK was built to be flexible. As the site develops, its users goals will be established and usability can shift and adapt to these needs.