Human-Centered Tools to Advance New Yorkers' Mental Health

NYC Well
Design Tools


NYC Well is New York City’s free, comprehensive, 24/7 gateway to local mental-health resources.


Each month, NYC Well receives 25,000 to 30,000 calls, texts, and chats from New Yorkers seeking care. In addition to providing professional and compassionate short-term counseling, NYC Well provides behavioral-health referrals, mobile crisis team coordination, and follow-up services.

The Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA) is responsible for delivering these services through its robust contact center and text-messaging platform. 

MHA asked the Public Policy Lab to help them develop ways to further understand and respond to New Yorkers' service needs. Using findings from human-centered research, PPL and MHA co-created two design tools, a user journey map and a set of user personas

These needs-focused artifacts will support the NYC Well team in making design choices about features, navigation, and interactions in current and future NYC Well services. 


About the Journey Map

The NYC Well journey map draws on research with the public, service providers, and MHA and City staff to represent a future state of service delivery. The map includes design prompts, keyed to journey phases, to help service and product owners explore how the service might better respond to the user preferences identified through research.

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About the Personas

The NYC Well personas represent an intentionally divergent set of potential service users, from New Yorkers with good access to care simply seeking a referral or short-term assistance, to residents with significant ongoing mental-health issues and people in crisis.

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Learn About Using the Tools

Personas and journey maps are powerful tools for ideation that can be used at all stages of a human-centered design process, from preliminary concepting to rapid prototyping to eventual testing and deployment. Learn more about how product and service owners can put the tools to use.


Research & Design Process

The NYC Well journey map and personas were developed during a human-centered research and design process. Learn more about how the project team learned from New Yorkers and co-created the tools.