Designing a product with mental health issues in mind


(Naji Esiri) #1

Banking for Users with Mental Health Conditions
Idea to fight addiction
(Christopher J. Sladdin) #3

A great piece - really insightful and fascinating to see Monzo’s approach to product design and mental health issues. Some of the ideas here are so common-sense that it amazes me they have not been implemented by others previously. Can’t wait to see them in the future.


(Marcus Nailor) #5

That was a brilliant read!

It’s awesome to see that Monzo is catering to a vast audience, not just the ‘norm’ :slight_smile:

Reading blog posts makes Monzo feel so transparent and open compared to typical banks, it’s fantastic and I hope you guys never stop blogging! :smiley:


(Nugue) #6

The ignorance here is so incredible. ‘Mental Health’ isn’t something you sprinkle over your product and tada you’ve made a difference! It’s so much more serious than that. I would rather read a post about how you are taking serious steps and designing a culture at Monzo with Mental wellbeing in mind than this rubbish!


(Alex Sherwood) #7

I think it’s fair to say that adding any of these features to the product would make a difference, in the ways that are explained in the blog. They’re not going to solve every challenge for users with mental health conditions but it’s a start.

I have a hard time seeing how Monzo stating it’s intentions is a bad thing. The point is, this sets a precedent / standard that Monzo is now compelled to follow because it will be held accountable by it’s users / employees. In addition, other companies might pick these ideas up & adopt them too which is no bad thing. Lastly, sharing these ideas provokes discussion, which will hopefully generate new ideas that can be implemented in the future.

Hopefully that discussion will be constructive.


(Zander) #8

Thanks for the feedback. I would personally argue that the whole purpose of the article was to show our intent as a company who are serious about serving our most vulnerable customers and those who suffer from mental health conditions.

On top of that, I produced the concept designs to show that this intent goes beyond theory, and that we’re able to make tangible product decisions and designs to back up my points.

Lastly, I would add that nurturing a culture of mental wellbeing is a different challenge and topic to improving the experience of those who are suffering and deserve a better solution.


(Zander) #9

Thank you everyone for the kind words and feedback thus far :slight_smile:

As @alexs says, I would love for this to become an open discussion about the concepts above, what you think we could do in the future, and our overall approach that has been outlined in the post.


(Freddie) #10

Very interesting read @zancler - great to see you are working on ways to use friction to ‘nudge’ users behaviour towards healthier, more considered, uses of money, as well as a different focus than many other banks in the industry. I can really see how this sort of consideration regarding mental health will provide benefits for us all; things such as warnings/suggestions after particular events/purchases will provide huge value to anyone!

This is making me look forward to the next releases even more! :+1:


(Nugue) #11

It’s hard to talk about mental health as little people do not understand it and most importantly you cannot have a critical argument without people being offended. I am seeing a trend of companies putting on a label or attitude of serving the people with mental health. The problem however is the area is so complex and misunderstood. While having good intentions is great i don’t really see anything of real value you have created. Would it have been that hard to find people who suffer from different mental health issues and held a workshop with them. Try and understand what it actually means for them before you jump straight to designing a solution for something that is more complex that you might understand? Isn’t ‘Empathy’ a key part of the creative process? Either way this is a sad attempt from Monzo, i expected better.


(Alex Sherwood) #12

I’ll leave someone from Monzo to reply to your suggestion on holding workshops which is a good one.

Having said that -

Did you actually read the blog post?

Back in July of 2016, Polly Mackenzie of the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) came to our office to discuss her work with us, while brainstorming ideas for what we could do to make Monzo a powerful, helpful and, in many ways, unique financial service for people suffering from mental health problems.

Just earlier this week, the MMHPI published findings from a report, that you can read about on the BBC website, outlining how retail banks must be more proactive in their approach to managing and providing for a financial service that works for sufferers of mental health problems.


(Nugue) #13

I have read the article thank you. If you have worked in design or in the field of psychiatry you would understand that it takes more than 1 visit from a speaker and some brainstorming to really understand mental health even before you attempt the solution. IDEO have a design process that most designers are familiar with which starts and finishes with Empathy, something which was not applied here. I read the title of the article ‘Designing a product with mental health issues in mind’ i didn’t expect this amateurish post. If no designs were included and it was a post about how they were going to tackle designing products with mental health in mind, laying out various methods to help them that would have still been a better post than this. This article is offensive and lazy, the subject matter is more complicated than it’s made to seem.


(Tom Warren) #14

I think this is a genuine attempt, and anything but offensive and lazy. It is much more than other companies are attempting to do in this space, and broader.

There is obviously much more that can be done, and I will not judge this early on, this is very much a company still in its infancy but has already made many positive impacts/influences.


(Zander) #15

I appreciate that you may disagree with the implementation of some of the features, but as @TomW says, it’s very early on — we are more than aware that a lot of work lies ahead and that this is just a start.

Your idea of a workshop is smart, and I’ll think of ways we can make that a reality. It is worth also noting, however, that we are a team of 70 people. As the data in the article states, 1 in 4 of adults suffer a mental health issue each year, which directly meaning a good chunk of the people building this product can empathise with the challenges some of our vulnerable customers face. It’s something many of us have experienced directly.

I’m more than happy to discuss ideas :slight_smile:


(Alex Sherwood) #17

Polly from the MMHPI who was mentioned in the blog post

:heavy_plus_sign:

Also, judging by the fact that this is easily the most retweeted post so far by the Monzo team on Twitter, this is clearly something they care about :heart_eyes:


(Carl Butcher) #19

So this seems like a really good approach that more people should take in every industry.

If I might make one recommendation though, it would be to allow customisation of when the “night spending” period applies- after all a lot of people (especially night shift workers) operate on a slightly different body clock and might have use of that support at a different time of day?


(Zander) #20

Lovely feedback. I think the two points you raised, proactive blocking and gambling, are two big and important ones.

They are both functions that we need to be very careful on, but I’d say that’s the case with any feature mentioned here or on feedback via Twitter, and that’s completely to be expected. Striking the balance when it comes to permissions is hard, so esp with gambling we’ll be undertaking quite some research before exploring ideas. Thanks again for your thoughts, they’re really helpful :slight_smile:

@Seabutcher definitely. It’s not part of the concept UI as I just wanna a really simple representation in Settings here, but the night spending period would certainly be customisable.


(Ben Allen) #21

A great article - A solid example of product design in the tech world geared towards human issues.


(Paul Musgrave) #22

Nugue, I am a Digital Creative Director at a global digital agency who is also a Bipolar sufferer and I must congratulate Zander on this work. I am replying here in response to comments made by you as I have worked in design, with a specialist interest in psychology and developing original thinking through a deeper understanding of technology and human behaviour. My personal experience as a designer and a human with mental illness made me feel from the outset that Zander and the team had evidently researched and understood the psychological, emotional and practical issues facing many people with mental illness - bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety in particular.

You talk of a lack of empathy, yet I see great empathy applied in the user experience and the business model. Empathy so strong in fact that as I read the article I felt that someone on the team must have first-hand experience of the debilitating effects of mental illness and the consequences of manic-state risk taking or compulsion. The “safety net” feature on spending is inspired thinking. Far from amateurish, lazy or offensive, this simple feature may seem irrelevant to anyone who can not understand how bipolar’s manic states affect one’s actions but it is in fact a brilliant digital tool which will support many sufferers in reinforcing the human support mechanisms they need in place to protect them from the potentially disastrous consequences of manic state behaviours. Furthermore, the simple options enabling a user to choose how they want to communicate shows a great understanding of the need for a person suffering with mental illness to talk on their own terms. I can see that this is not just a regular set of user options but that it is rooted in a deeper understanding of how it “feels” to be in a state of depression or anxiety.

The suggestion that workshops with mental illness sufferers should be held is a good one. However, the session with MMHPI’s Polly Mackenzie has clearly given the design team the benefit of aggregated research and validated insight of greater value than a small number of workshops or focus groups could have revealed. The work done here reveals an understanding of the subtleties required to offer a reassurance and an articulation of understanding a user’s context - to actively express empathy - through a digital interaction with a person who is dealing with the disabling effects of mental illness. Workshops and more focussed user research and testing will enhance these concepts as they are developed from high-level designs (which they currently are) into detailed design and UX solutions (which they don’t yet claim to be). Workshops and focus groups will also no doubt bring about yet more inspired thinking and creative application of technology but the work done so far should be celebrated, it deserves to be offered advice on how to build upon it to make it greater, not criticised or dismissed as “rubbish”.

@zancler, and your team, Bravo! Keep up the proactive and positive outlook and keep putting your ideas out there.


#23

I totally agree with you Paul


(Alex Sherwood) #24

It’s great to see Zander explaining this blog post in more depth, alongside Polly Mackenzie, in the Guardian -

And perhaps inspired by the feedback earlier in the post -

Monzo is currently working on a series of workshops with groups of people suffering from a range of different mental health conditions so its development teams can “understand what they would need and like to see to make the product as useful and reassuring for them as can be”.