Altru · App

Mental health app by Big Radical studio.

2. Altru app 2

Case Study 

The focus of the project is to help people who may have friends and family at risk of depression understand it better and take action to mitigate its impact. Our idea was drawn from a combination of different disciplines, including psychotherapy,

other health care professionals, games developers, coders, strategists, data science UX, interaction and visual designers. We collaborated and co-created to develop deeper insight, deliver ideas, a final prototype and plan.

The challenge

We also thought about how we could use new technology including data and gaming to create ideas that have the following qualities:

• Barrier-free easy to access and use
• Make recognising depression and taking effective action easy
• Built in a way that delivers sustained use over time



People between the ages of 18-24 know that depression is a big issue and see many of their friends, family and colleagues affected by it. They feel powerless. They don’t know how to read the signs as people they know enter a depressive phase, they feel inhibited to say or do anything, or if they do recognise what might be going on, they aren’t sure what the right action to take is.
Our attempt is to build bridges between the larger, “well” community and those who might be struggling. In doing so, they destigmatize mental health vulnerability and harness the power of the circle of care to strengthen and empower more vulnerable community members.


What we built was measured using these outcomes:

• Increased understanding of the issues connected to depression for sufferers and their immediate peer group, family and colleagues
• A reduction in the escalation of depression and related issues
• Reduction in the cost of mental health care
•Increased community cohesion/ more tolerant society



The main target audiences are 18-24-year-old men and women who may be at university or starting out on their careers and who have friends, family and colleagues who may be living with depression or who are at risk of suffering from it.
(i.e. we are not designing for people who may be more likely to suffer from depression but for the people around them - e.g. peer groups, family and their wider networks)

Design process

Designing for what users want to know, do & feel. Synthesising goals from the research served as a lens through which we could consider not only what the app should do, but also how it should feel. We believed this would be the difference between delivering a good experience and a great one.

Thinking about emotional design early on helped us to understand the importance of aesthetics and tone of voice within the experience. 

My role was as a UI/UX designer. We were three in the team responsible for these deliverables: personas, user goals and needs, user journeys, wireframes, prototyping and visual design. Some of the constraints were time and a project with too wide a scope.




Style guide  


Structuring the experience

After identifying the main 'plot‐points' in our scenarios, we defined the primary pathways our personas would explore through the app. Crafting several key user journeys was the best way to conceptualise and structure the proposed content and functionality. We began to think about particular usage contexts, the opportunities they presented and how elements manifesting themselves in the interface would help to support the user.

We found that 'The circle of care' was an untapped help resource. Existing digital tools focus on the sufferer rather than the circle of care. There is little guidance on what those in the circle of care could or should do. For example, what to say and the nuances, how to say the right things at the right time.

Solution: Sentiment analysis APIs could be useful to help people help others with depression. The ability to send something to someone that is triggered by a piece of data or based on your understanding of their friends.


– wireframes

How does it work? 

Connecting, sharing and providing guidance. How to manage situations through compassion, patience, humour and empathy. Some support options are to listen to advice in an audio format, having a chat with a professional, taking a happiness measure survey, evaluating if the aim is achieved, accessing the right information, and engaging with their loved ones.

We applied gamification elements to a non-gaming situation. Adding fun "missions" and shareable achievements help to bond and improve relationships.  For example, users increasing their ‘karma’, can win discounts to do activities together (cinema, restaurants, gigs, etc..)

acknowledge · take action · track · evaluate · healthy boundaries

These are the 5 steps we created

01. Learn - Help people learn more about depression, increase their awareness and start de-stigmatising

02. Recognise - Enable people to recognise symptoms in themselves or others through cognitive enablement

03. Accept - Acceptance that I or you could be depressed, that it is a normal part of life, and it might well happen again

04. Act - Be able to easily and comfortably act on signs received, by asking for help or asking if someone needs help

05. Sustain - Create a behavioural shift in a sustainable, positive way. Helping people take positive, resilient steps on an ongoing basis