The Victorian Mental Health Tribunal deals with people in the midst of profound crisis. The Tribunal wants to lift participation rates in their hearings and processes because they know that it improves patient outcomes.

But the patients at the centre of the hearings are suffering from severe mental illnesses. Further, they often being held, against their will and for their own protection, in locked wards, with little access to phones or technology. 

Briarbird’s job was to understand the needs of patients then redesign the Tribunal website around these needs. We needed to establish an effective role for the website play in this context of a mental health crisis.

I gave a talk at UX Australia 2019 about this project (unfortunately Lan Huang, my co-writer, couldn’t attend). The talk focuses on how we conducted a human-centric design process given the special context surrounding those with profound mental illness:

  • How to recruit for such a sensitive demographic
  • How to compassionately interview this demographic and their families
  • How to observe Tribunal hearings and the interactions between patients, their treating teams and the Tribunal members
  • Transitioning these observations into actionable and agreed insights with the MHT executive
  • Co-design of a greatly simplified content solution based on our research
  • The need to go beyond the web channel

There’s also a post about how we worked with a design system in the project.


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