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A mental health check-in app for students.

StartUp 2020 : Rise

My Role

Research Lead

What I Did




Group Project 


1 Week

Interaction Design


Giving a voice

This design sprint was apart of SCAD Startup, a yearly event hosted by FLUX, a UX club in collaboration with SCAD. During the week long sprint, each team will present their final deliverables in the form of a pitch slide-deck to a panel of industry leading professionals that serve as mock investors. My team started ideating immediately and came up with many ideas. We ended wanted to focus of how to give a voice to middle school students who have went though any sort of trauma. My team wanted to focus on this topic because we realize that middle school can be a very difficult and vulnerable time for many student, we want student know that they are not alone and can seek help in a discrete way. 


Connecting Students With Faculty 

To tackle this design challenge, my team of 5 proposed to create An in class app that will be used not only for daily attendance, but to check in with the students emotionally. When first entering the app the student will sign in and go through a series of questions to see how they are emotionally. After Assessing how they are emotionally they will be asked if they would like to speak with a trusted adult. This is their chance to discreetly reach out for help without any of their classmates knowing. If yes, they can pick which adult they would like to speak with and a good time that would work for them. After the student is done the teacher is then notified to meet with the student. 

App screens of Rise



My group got the chance to interview two experts, Alexa Zafarana and Megan Ave'Lallemant. From our interviews we learned the most effective tools to help middle school students. In order to help middle school students, faculty need too to keep the student between a hypo and hyper active state which is called the ‘goldilocks’ phase. Before talking to student a good way to get them in this state is to complete a simple task such as meditation, calming music, or drawing. 



After doing some quick secondary research to help us have an idea on what questions would benefit us mot in a survey we sent our survey to a middle school. At this middle school we were able to survey over 450 middle school students and  36 middle school faculty and staff over three days. 

When asked in a survey: Which events have you experienced?

Check all that apply:

We also asked: If you knew there were teachers in the building who were trained and wanted to help students with personal/non-academic concerns, would you be willing to reach out to them?


Even if you don't know the teacher?


Students will reach out to trained teachers or counselors if there was a more discreet way of doing so. Our design opportunity to find out how to show students who a 'safe person' is to speak too, and how to get students to speak up without alerting other student. 


SOLUTION: A check in app for students

We created RISE, a mental health check in app for students. We found that students were more likely to reach out for help from trusted adults or counselors when there was a discreet way of doing so. RISE is an app that can be downloaded onto any tablet. Not only will this app be used for attendance for the homeroom teacher, this app will ask a short series of questions to see how the student is doing, following a way to reach out to a chosen, trusted adult without any other students seeing. 

Anticipating that more students are going to reach out we created the Counselor Tools Channel. From our expert interview with Alexa Zafarana, we discovered how important it is getting young people who have experienced trauma into the ‘goldilocks’ phase. In order to open up and talk they need to be out of the hypo/hyper excitement state. This tool can be used to help students  relax in their preferred way while waiting for the counselor.. Some of the options are yoga, listening to music, and drawing.

Additional Items

To help make a smoother transition in a classroom, we designed inexpensive stand, that we prototyped, that would be easily purchased by the school. Our stand is designed of cardboard, but, it is remarkably sturdy, and supported the full weight of one of our team members. This stand also folds up completely flat for storage

We also created a 'safe person' identification system. This system is used to help student identify trusted adults and counselors.  Teachers can wear lanyards and put stickers around their classroom.   




Through our user testing we gained lots of feedback on the features and colors of the prototype. We got the chance to have three people go through our prototype.  Everyone said during user testing that they would have valued this app in their school and that they would have reached out more to seek help. Our middle school tester said that they had a similar program, however, it was not anonymous. This system felt more comfortable to them. 






While our target users are the students, our main target audiences would be the schools’ PTAs and their counseling department. During our research, we couldn't find an approximate number for schools’ mental health budget. Each county is completed different, however, most schools have federal technology grants. This requires schools to integrate technology into their classroom in some way which are usually tablets or computers. In order for every school to have access to it, we would pitch to the PTA. Schools would only need to purchase the app, and a stand, because most schools invest their grants on tablets and computers already. The app and stand would cost $5. To put things in person, a typical school of 100 classrooms (20-30 students each) would only need to raise $500 to be This only would cost $0.16 per student, which is easily attainable cost by a PTA.


We played around with which colors to use for the attendance part of the app and the Counselor Tools Channel. For colors we decided to use blues and oranges. Blue is used for the attendance  part of the app where students complete a short survey on how they are doing. We used blue because it symbolizes trust. Blue reduces stress and creates a sense of calmness, relaxation, and feeling secure. We want students to have these feeling when filling out the survey. The color range is used for the Counselor Tools Channel. Orange symbolizes confidence and communicates the feeling of fun, freedom, and optimism. When students meet with trusted adults and counselors we want them to feel confident that they are in a safe space. 
















Brand Mark


This project really pushed my team and I to think outside the box of what giving voice really means. It really made us realize just how much we can accomplish in a single week. We created an app for students suffering from trauma and gave them a voice to talk to a trusted adult all while being discrete. We gather over 450 surveys, 2 expert interviews, made a prototype, formed a business plan, and user tested in a matter of days. My team Savannah Wilkinson, Derek Thorton, Taylor Rosenfeld, and Nico Zafarana and extremely proud of we created and will continue to work on it to hopefully make it a reality for schools all over. 

Group Members:



Nico Zafarana


Derek Thorton

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