Co-Design workshops for mental health services: helping Australians access support

In 2014, it was clear Australians needed more mental health support. In response, Healthdirect and the Department of Health teamed up to launch a Digital Mental Health Gateway. It was my privilege to be part of the amazing team at Healthdirect. We worked on the Discovery and Alpha phases of the project with people from all over Australia.




Service Design






We partnered with Professor Jane Burns and MH Commissioner Jackie Crowe. We decided to run co-design workshops with a diverse range of Australians. Co-design creates equal partnerships with the community when designing services.

We spoke with 129 participants from all walks of life across 7 cities. From individuals & families with a lived experience of mental health issues to;

  • People living with a disability
  • Carers
  • Indigenous people
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people
  • LGBTIQ people
  • Primary Health Networks, health professionals, service providers, not-for-profits
  • People from urban, regional and remote communities
  • Policymakers and the government

We even had access to a Core Community Group to help with testing and feedback. After much dialogue, three key themes emerged: respect, understanding, and the power to make decisions. Participants wanted to access the service through many channels, not just the website.


With our newfound insights, we took the project to its Alpha stage. To guarantee meeting everyone's needs, I created design principles to shape the end product.

Design principles

  1. Design principles
  2. Simple, clear and to the point
  3. Actionable and immediate
  4. Promote local where possible
  5. Safe and reassuring
  6. Accessible to all

Customer journey storyboards

During this phase, we tested our hypotheses with prototypes. We collected feedback from each round to refine the solution until it met the participants' needs. From there we designed a service with three components. A website with information organised by cards, and a chatbot for help that is clinically safe. Finally, access to the chatbot through many channels for ultimate impact.

Customer journeys across channels

Chat wireframes

Design components

After months of dedicated work, our team completed the Discovery and Alpha phases of this project. Our co-design process was then assessed by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA). We met each of the criteria for their Digital Service Standards. I am proud of the results and grateful to have contributed to such an impactful project.