Transforming a mental health and well-being support platform for children and young people

Kooth from XenZone

Kooth is a safe, confidential and anonymous mental health and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through any connected device. Available free at the point of use, Kooth helps to reduce wait times for young people seeking help while removing the stigma associated with accessing help.

One in 10 young people will experience a mental health disorder, which can affect school learning, stress tolerance, confidence, motivation and personal relationships. Around 70% of these people have not sought appropriate interventions.

The Kooth platform is a solution by XenZone to ensure that young people can access professional help as and when they need it. At Despark, we’re motivated by creating products that help improve the way the world is experienced and using technology to do good, so we were humbled to be involved in such a rewarding project.

Kooth from XenZone project screenshot

The Brief

Despark were briefed to rediscover, redesign and redevelop the front end of the Kooth platform into a customised and well-executed platform, to encourage young people to seek advice. Give young people an anonymous, friendly online counselling and emotional well-being platform.

Give young people an anonymous, friendly online counselling and emotional well-being platform.

Kooth from XenZone project screenshot

The Approach

The problem we wanted to collaboratively solve with Kooth was to provide young people with an anonymous, safe and friendly way to talk to someone, anywhere. At this stage of the project, we focus on only the problem, and not the solution. So, we began by reviewing all existing documentation and analysis, as well as holding stakeholder interviews to understand the real challenges being experienced with the current platform and service. We also covered some of the technical capacities and challenges.

We used the results to define the end product, prioritise features and to develop user stories. Considering the audience and sensitive nature of the service, usability and consideration for the counseling experience were paramount to the product success. The system anonymously allows XenZone to learn from audience insights so it can continuously become more intuitive and helpful. The user journey was designed to encourage users to seek support at any time so even when the online counselors are unavailable late at night, Kooth serves up advice and support for the user.

The platform had to be attractive, compelling and easy to use. Starting off with the basics, we designed the entire journey to appeal to young people’s lifestyles, which meant each feature was designed mobile first, with desktop usage as a secondary focus. A lot of consideration went into selecting the right images and tone of voice to make the site feel more approachable for users to start a conversation. We took inspiration from a platform used daily by most young adults already, Facebook - predominantly taking inspiration from their timeline, emoticon posts and online messaging style.

To improve the Kooth experience we refined existing features and introduced some new useful features across the platform which include:

  • News feed – access to a variety of support and self-help articles
  • Live moderated forums – to get support and give advice to peers in similar situations
  • Online chat - enabling users to speak with Kooth counsellors within Kooth opening hours and the ability to message outside of these
  • Emotions status update – enabling the user to express and track their emotions
  • Feedback forms and goal capture - after each interaction with counsellors, users are asked questions about their experience with Kooth. It can also capture individual goals met by the user

The Result

The new Kooth platform is slick, user-friendly and more intuitive for young people. Since launch last month, mobile usage has increased and over 69% of the platforms users are visiting Kooth and engaging with its content out of hours. This shows us that the new mobile responsive platform fulfills its goal of being there for its members, anytime, anywhere.

The Kooth system anonymously allows XenZone to continuously learn from user insights and continually become more intuitive and helpful for more children and young people across the UK.