PROBLEM: How to proactively help men who do not want, or think they need mental health support?
SOLUTION: Create a platform for men to socialise and set group health, fitness and work goals.
During the UX course we teamed up with developers for a Hackathon to assist a new NGO, MAN.ORG, in their work to proactively prevent suicide in men. Male suicide rates are alarming high, in Australia the number of male suicides is 3 times higher in males than females. Statistically an Australian commits suicide every 3 hours.
Many NGOs are tackling this issue, but very few initiatives are taking a proactive stance. MAN.ORG believes that this preventative approach could be effective and were given two days to create a working prototype that could help them perform this work.
Right away we identified some major hurdles:
With only 48 hours to deliver a prototype there was no time for extensive research. Our approach was to identify the most effective programs currently in place and see if there was a way we can augment them digitally.
This lead us to the ‘Men’s Shed’ programs which have proven to be effective and bringing men together to support and assist each other.
This is further supported by our research into the concept of ‘The Third Place’ coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg. The ‘Third Place’ refers to a space that is not the home and not work, but a place where people can be social and feel safe to pursue community building activities. This sort of space has proven to be effective for improving community bonds and mental health.
Our solution was to create a web app that allowed men to form groups and set team goals and events. A strong sense of camaraderie has seen many men through their darkest hours and we believe that it can work effectively here.
Being a web app it is also more easily accessible, and we believe that encouraging men to support each other would be more effective than prompting a man individually. Men are also quite task and goal orientated which we think this leverages quite well.
The ‘Third Place’ app will be a platform that men can come together to set goals and support each other. It is a positive and safe space, where the focus is not on preventing depression, but to help each other be the best version of themselves.
The platform is designed for men to organize into small close knit groups, they will be someone designated as the administrator and they will have access to a dashboard that will allow them to set group goals and events.
Each member will also have their own control panel to monitor their goal progress and active events or challenges. We also added a self reporting feature where they can update how their feeling in the 3 core areas of fitness, mental health and professional goals. These values are the three pillars that MAN.ORG would like to focus on so this ties the platform to their organisation very well.
The key to this self reporting though is that the results are only for the user to see and no one else. Instead the figures contribute to an overall group score so people can see how the group is doing as a whole.
What this means is that users don’t have to feel pressured or be singled, but at the same time can make any issues known so that it can be addressed.
As it is a hack-a-thon project we weren’t able to test this solution, but it was well received by Man.org and we would like to think that if implemented this has the potential to improve the lives of the men of who use it.
Use the link below for a copy of our presentation