wellcome trust

Empowering young people to shape the future of mental health science

Designing a digital product to onboard and match 16-25 year olds who have
lived experience of anxiety or depression to suitable research studies

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The Challenge

Wellcome Trust fund researchers and scientists to take on the worlds biggest health challenges. One of their core priority areas is mental health science.

Engaging diverse young people aged 16-25 to take part in mental health studies is challenging, and the lack of participation is negatively affecting the acceleration of mental health science for young people. This is not only a huge problem for Wellcome Trust, but also for society as a whole.

The key challenge of this project was to better understand the human needs and barriers of young people towards participation in research studies and to explore ways to increase engagement.

My Role

Lead UX Designer at Common Good


6 Weeks to Alpha


User experience design
Interface design
Rapid prototyping
User testing
Workshop facilitation


Pen & pencil

The Process

Working closely with the mental health public engagement team at Wellcome Trust, and in parallel to qualitative design researchers, I took a lean approach to concept development and testing.

From speaking to young people with lived experience of anxiety or depression, speaking to scientists, using behavioural design principles, finding analogous inspiration, and analysing the existing experience, it became clear that the recruitment and onboarding process was contributing towards the problem. It was daunting, intimidating, and relied heavily on the user to pick up the phone or send an email to make the first move, something that is extremely difficult for people experiencing low motivation or lacking confidence. We also learnt that young people are data conscious especially when it comes to mental health and need certainty about how their personal data would be used and shared, along with trust that their identity would remain anonymous.

This insight informed hypothesis, design principles, and UX strategies to guide our decision making when designing for anxiety, trust, and motivation. Using inclusive design methods we rapidly prototyped and tested concept solutions with people in the UK, USA, Canada, and Costa Rica using remote testing tools and co-creation workshops. This approach allowed us to fail fast and reduce the risk of building the wrong thing.


Analogous inspiration
User interviews
Desk research


Ideation workshop
Behavioural design principles
Colour theory


Paper prototype
Clickable Alpha


Remote testing
Co-creation workshop


The Outcome

Through qualitative research and lean UX methods we tested hypothesis and validated an alpha prototype of Andi - an online platform where young people can actively take part in research studies whilst earning wellbeing rewards and achievements. The onboarding experience is designed to be friendly, playful, calming, reasuring, inclusive, and motivating.

The insights and solutions from this project contributed towards Wellcome Trust gaining further million pound funding for the mental health priority area to continue the work.


Validated alpha
Million pound funding gained

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