Master thesis about improving mental health of students, strategic design study, 2022

problem and goals

Quotes from interviews with students and images they associate with their studies. 

Climate change, war, pandemic – today's crises and health data show that it's more important than ever to teach people the right skills to cope with crises as early as possible. In addition, there is the growing pressure from the meritocracy. Educational institutions, including universities, are therefore primarily held accountable by politicians. According to an interviewed university psychologist, the change in life circumstances alone puts university students in times of crisis.

The goal is therefore to strengthen health competences and to develop awareness for mental health. Why not make it a regularity, like brushing your teeth?

what's important

After a research on resilience, protective factors and stakeholders, a market research as well as 17 interviews with students and a university psychologist, several findings were collected. These resulted in requirements for the new concept. The most important were the teaching of skills that strengthen resilience, the empowerment of social resources, and a regularity that, in the best case scenario, would develop into a routine. 

first concepts & testing

With the help of various creative methods, including the theory of change, the miracle question and the mentor role, three strategies were developed to support the mental health of students. In order to test these with the user group, simple storyboards were created that describe the concepts from the user's point of view. 

Mental Prophylaxis

Mental Mentors

Check-in Buddy

final strategy

With the help of the test results and research on various reflection methods, the final strategy for the thesis was developed. This strategy focuses mainly on the concept of the mental prophylaxis, but also promotes social resources and offers the possibility of an extension such as the mental mentors, which were very well received by students who had already experienced crises. 

UX & UI concept

A desktop-only solution was intentionally designed, as students should consciously take time for reflection and not be tempted by a mobile version to do it half-heartedly on the go. From the UX, it was particularly important not to have the feeling of a survey, but to use playful elements to make the tool as diverse and fun as possible. 

Creating a user profile

When using the reflection tool for the first time, a student must first create a profile. Unlike other programs or apps, however, this step already involves basic reflections, of which the results form the basis for the regular semester reflection. Among them, for example, your own vision, why you are studying and what you want to achieve with it. During the course of your studies, especially in difficult times, you can always use this as an orientation, like a lighthouse. 

The basic reflection

The basic reflection includes different topics that you can become aware of at the beginning and at the end of the semester – e.g. energy level, sleep, sport. This is to create a mindfulness for one's own health. The methods also help you to become aware of what is good and what is less good for you (e.g. a person or a subject).

The semester dashboard

The dashboard summarizes the results of all reflections and can be viewed at any time. Here, the development in the various reflection areas is recorded and suitable recommendations are made by an algorithm. These can be uni's own events, which one would otherwise not have become aware of, or methods, you can integrate into your everyday life. 

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