Designing Mental Health and Wellbeing Services that Resonate with Young People at all Stages of their Mental Health and Wellbeing Journey

  • 2023

  • Design Research

Commissioned By:


Designed In:


headspace is Australia’s Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing mental health and wellbeing services to young people, their families and support networks across Australia.
Our in-depth research uncovered the needs of their extensive, diverse customer base, in a way that empowers headspace to design meaningful services that support young people.

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  • headspace provide vital support services to all young people and their support networks across Australia. This enormous potential customer base makes designing for all needs difficult and headspace needed to maximise their product and service mix, and therefore better understand their current experience to improve their services at scale. A breadth of existing research explores youth mental health, but most of this is survey-based with quantitative results, which didn’t provide depth and evoke empathy. headspace needed research that would transcend the limitations of existing data and provide the underlying motivations and attitudes behind surface-level quantitative data.

  • We undertook in-depth, empathetic research with young people, their families and their support networks to uncover their core needs and characteristics. We found young people exhibited distinct levels of mental health "openness" that directly correlated to unique needs, behaviours and perceptions of their health. Our Customer Experience Toolkit represented these openness levels and unique needs in an easily digestible way to build a foundation and common language for staff to cater their services to young people with differing levels of openness. These enduring resources provide the foundation for embedding insight into the design across strategy, digital products and service delivery.

  • Building from the newly developed deep insights, we co-designed initiatives with headspace staff and young people that empower headspace to deliver maximum value across the openness scale. Combined with the research findings, this collaboration drove recommendations of tactical improvements to service delivery as well as new strategic opportunities for the organisation. This approach ensured our research insights were applied organisation-wide with the customer at the core. The insights uncovered, resources created, and opportunities identified enable headspace to better design for, reach, and impact the young people of Australia in their mental health and wellbeing journey for decades to come.

  • The resources that consolidate, synthesise, and present our research were all created with the purpose of enabling headspace to easily and effectively integrate insights into design and decision-making. We created a Customer Experience (CX) toolkit, comprising: An Openness Model, which articulates the behavioural differences across different ‘openness’ levels, providing headspace with a scalable framework to better segment, understand and design for its large customer base. The insights within this are paramount in illustrating this critical finding from our research. A Needs Framework consolidates young people's needs across the varying scale of the intensity of their needs and their level of openness. It explores nuances in how to meet these needs based on the openness model and includes suggested approaches. The Proactive Health Maintenance Journey outlines the different needs of young people when considering proactive or preventative health maintenance activities and the stages to turn trying health activities into healthy habits. This area of preventative mental health was a critical gap in existing research. This journey overview allows headspace to better design new interventions for the growing need in preventive care.