Be clear

Mental health services need to be clear in how they are delivered, what they offer and when and how change will occur in order for people to make informed choices.

Further description

Clarity is important for users when engaging with a service. If a service isn’t clear on how it works, what it offers and how users can engage, it may result in users not using the product or service.

Research has shown that many organisations (non mental health specific) are unclear on which services they can offer to support their staff or user's mental health. 

If users are able to make their own informed decisions, they should be able to understand what a service offers, how it will support them and what is required of them. 

It is important to be as clear as possible across a number of parameters, including: what the service delivers, the detail of how it works for users and the boundaries you put in place so people know what they can expect from you. These parameters might include; 

Clarity on which challenges you can help people overcome or manage 

Recognising an individual’s potential challenges can be a good way of helping people understand where you might be able to support

Breaking down support offers

Often, organisations run a suite of services. If this is the case, you can carefully use mechanisms like age to breakdown who a service is for, so long as this doesn't exclude members of the population. Simple techniques like splitting services onto different pages is an effective way of reducing complexity for users.  

Focus on the benefits or outcomes over features

Features are how your product will actually deliver what it does, not what it will help the person to do. Being clear on which outcomes might be achieved can help people to decide if you are right for them.  

Clarity on boundaries of delivery 

A lack of clarity or boundaries can undermine the trust users feel towards the services provided and also put staff into risky situations. Be clear as to where your support begins and ends, who you work in partnership with and what the journey to recovery or self-management might look like. 

Clarity on language and names for things 

Using language that is familiar to users and explains what your service is will help you to be clear on where you can help. Acronyms for services or medical terms can exclude users and leave them feeling unsure, or confused about an element of treatment or support. 

Forming agreements and clarity on decision making 

It’s important to be clear in the terms and conditions and agreements in place for support. 

This could happen at several stages of a user’s interaction with a service, from sign up to changing the delivery of the service whilst in use or deciding on a clinical intervention. 

By ensuring that agreements and terms and conditions are clear, this means that users understand how their data is handled and how much control they have over their treatment. These are parameters that require you to be clear upfront and provide information in an accessible way. 

For example, services could be withdrawn if a family member gets involved and an agreement wasn’t clear on who makes decisions on continuity of care. 

The principle of being clear cuts across all elements of your product or service design and delivery. 


Further reading