Work

Mental health pattern library

Connecting the dots of mental health learnings and research
Person holding iPad
Laptop with web page for Design Patterns for Mental Health

Today, mental health problems exact a greater toll than tuberculosis, cancer or heart disease, and the World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the leading cause of disease burden by 2030.

As awareness around mental health issues increases, and as the healthcare landscape continues to shift, we have seen more products and services appearing that are tackling this challenge. In short: there’s a growing need, more available funding, and a greater opportunity than ever to give people the support they need.

Taking a step back

In the world of digital, the development of mental health products has been rapid. From meditation apps to online therapy courses, there has been a huge amount of creation and learning in a short space of time. In 2017 we recognised that there was a huge potential to take a step back and review what has been learnt. By knowing what works, what doesn’t, and where the gaps are, we can design and build better tools for the human experience.

Discovering design patterns

Working side-by-side with Public Policy Lab, Snook set out to connect the dots. We conducted desk research, spoke to the NHS, mental health charities, academics, front-line staff and designers. These insights were then transformed during a 2-day workshop in NYC. Together, we started to see the repetition – we started to see the patterns.

Design patterns are things that pop up again and again, whether signing into a website or enabling a location service on an app, they exist to solve common problems, and to make services more accessible.

As a result of working with Public Policy Lab and a global network, we produced 35 design patterns that formed the foundation of Design Patterns for Mental Health. It’s the world’s first collection of patterns and principles that can be used for the development of digital mental health products.

Users can go onto the platform and access the ‘pattern library’. When a pattern is selected, a high level description displays alongside examples of great working practice and related research. These learnings are available to be integrated into the user’s own work, giving high-quality insights – even when bespoke funding is unavailable. It reduces the duplication of research, and has the potential to create better mental health products and services – for everyone.

Laptop with web page for Design Patterns for Mental Health

Impact

Since launching in 2018 we’ve influenced the work of 2 NHS healthcare providers, built relationships with 25 partners, and started a global Slack community of 150 designers, thinkers and creators who are continually evolving this collection with us.

  • 2 NHS Healthcare providers influenced
  • 25 Partner relationship build
  • 150 Network working on developing the library

But that’s just the start. With funders taking us to the next level, we’re looking forward to developing and deepening our collections and increasing our impact. Furthermore, the library has the potential to transform lives by making health care support and services smarter, faster and more effective. Because good, accessible mental health support should be there for everybody – not just the few.