-Microsoft Research (Design Expo 2019)
A training application for crisis & suicide helpline volunteers to learn and practice empathy skills in a way that is engaging, repeatable and scalable.
UI Micro Animation
10 Weeks Project Development + 6 Weeks Project Refine
Project Theme: Empathy on Scale
Design a product, service, or solution that enables/creates empathy across a large and diverse demographic. Demonstrate a creation that is innovative, maps back to a clear need, and leverages current technologies (or those that are feasible in the near-term).
Our Design Journey
In this project, we discovered that empathy is more than a feeling. It can also become a practice.
The emphasis is not on how deep we can relate to other people’s problems or lives, but on how we can make other people feel heard and understood.
So it’s less about what *we* feel, and more about how we make *other people* feel.
All begins with a conversation
We had a conversation with our friend Ali, who is a suicide survivor.
We realized that Ali is not an isolated suicide survivor case. There are many people who, like Ali, suffered from depression and had attempted suicide. Maybe we all have friends that seem cheerful but deep inside, their mind, they struggle with suicidal thoughts.
In the U.S alone there are 5 million people who had attempted suicide. There are some people who rely on mental health practitioner or friends, but for people who live in rural areas, or places that are not accessible, mental health services are not always readily available.
In the U.S
So a lot of people who doesn’t have access, rely on suicide prevention helplines.
Here, we see that the number of national lifeline callers in 2017 reached 2 million people, a very sharp increase compared to when the helpline first started in 2005.
Number's of Calls
Number's of Calls
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline U.S
However, to meet the increasing demand for suicide prevention, just scaling up is *not* enough.
According to a counselor, Jasrin, there’s an immediate and increasing need for crisis helpline. Volunteers are often sent out without adequate training…
Because there is an immediate and increasing need for crisis helpline, volunteers are sent out without adequate training...
And from Our friend, Ali, a suicide survivor who had a terrible experience calling a helpline. During the call, he felt offended and not heard. He didn’t feel the responder was genuine in their responses.
I feel offended and not heard, I felt worse after...I don’t feel the responder was genuine in their responses.
Fortunately, Ali survived. But what if he didn’t?
This is when it hit us that it’s not enough for helpline centers to **JUST** scale up but they need to scale up **without** compromising the quality..because life are at stake.
Helpline centers need to scale up without compromising quality of responders
In order to learn about how we can solve the problems, we researched into how different centers train their volunteers, and we have identified several main issues that make the training process inefficient.
Training is not standardized & not designed with user-friendliness
Training empathy skills is still very dependent on specialist.
To solve these issues, we designed LISTEN:
An application for helpline volunteers to learn and practice empathy skills, in a way that is more engaging, repeatable and accessible.
Brainstorm, Prototype, and Iterate
List out the existing program stages in helping a caller
Study training manuals to understand how to design the content
Ideate the possible solutions
Study Google and Amazon Conversational UI Design Guide and draw out conversational flow
Design the conversation on PowerPoint to test out the concept
Build lo-fi prototype to test the interaction
High level conversation flow
1. Break down complex concepts into smaller modules
2. Simulate experience with a real caller via pre-recorded scenarios
3. More verbal practices
Break down user flow for module, reflection
How the app works
How to navigate through each screen
Home page -> Onboarding
Level of practices with hints
Working Prototype (based on the proof of concept)
Sentence Similarity Scoring (word2vec)
So what we have built so far is an app that allows volunteers to learn empathy skills and verbally practice them.
But for Listen to be adapted by centers, we need to
Complete Training Experience
Accurate Language Scoring
Since helpline volunteers are the first line of help for people who are at risk for suicide, helpline centers really need to scale up in a way that still maintain the quality of their volunteers.
By creating a training experience that are more engaging, repeatable, and accessible for volunteers, Listen allows for scaling up effectively **without** overwhelming the centers and the specialists. Essentially, Listen leverages on the volunteers’ own willingness to help and learn.
Just like the helpline volunteers, we all can learn ways to empathetically listen, reflect, and talk with people around us in a way that makes them feel understood and heard.
This is how we arrived at this concept of
Empathy as a practice
More about project details, click here