Mental health and wellbeing

Junction is a hackathon event that is conducted every year. There are students coming to this event from all over the world. This year’s Junction 2019 took place on November 15 – 17 2019. I participated in a challenge, in a team of 6, to design a solution for the Mental health and wellbeing of young users. In this blog, I will be discussing how I used gamification elements in designing the application to persuade users to use the wellbeing application.

Understanding the target audience

My target audience is high school and college-going students. According to a survey conducted by OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), around 20% of Finnish people face depression [1]. According to Mieli [2], most of this depression is rooted in childhood experience. A study conducted by Morrison and Gore [3] found that depression is highly correlated with internet usage. These students spent more time on sexually gratifying websites, gaming websites, chat, social platforms, etc. A study conducted by Ebesutani et. al [4] found that loneliness is a key factor for anxiety and depression in school and university students.

Below is the experience goals that we set for the users. We used personas to empathize and did user journey map to realize what kind of features and areas of the app we should concentrate and include.

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The concept behind the application: physical socialization

Since loneliness creates anxiety and then leads to depression, we thought of creating an application to encourage young users to socialize in the physical world rather than the online world. As the user group uses technology a lot, we felt the solution should persuade them to socialize using technology. 

A video explaining the app:

Link to the Junction project page:

Gamification Elements

The gamified UK provides a periodic table of different gamification elements as shown below.


This application uses a number of these gamification elements to persuade users regularly. 

  1. Personalization: In games, players are allowed to select and customize an avatar to facilitate their preferences and how they feel in the game. This individual personal avatar helps the players to feel like a unique part of the game. Even each player can have a personalized character name. Similar to this we also wanted to give personalized task plans to each user. So while the user signs up for the application we ask the user’s interests and some questions regarding how depressed they feel or what they really enjoy doing and what are they curious to learn. This way we can personalize the user’s task list and also match the users based on their skills, interests, and needs. A machine learning algorithm will predict the recommendations similar to how Tinder suggests and bring people together. 
  1. Achievement (Progression): In games, plays are given leveling up and that shows that they developed skills. Similar to that we have different tasks of different difficulty levels. So as the user completes the easy levels the users will be presented with difficult tasks. This way the users can challenge themselves. Upon completion, the users will have different levels like bronze, silver and gold members. Below are some examples of tasks that we decided to showcase in the prototype. 
  1. Rewards: In games, rewards are like feedback for achievements. The reward will work as an extrinsic motivation for the player in a game and to work as a recognition for the effort, time and the skills learned. Similar to this, in our application, we have something called as Joy Points. These points are given to a player upon doing any task or the user can redeem these points to real rewards. 
  1. Story:  Most games usually have a story and scenario. This narrative set will help the plays to feel related to the game and play or be a part of the game. Similar to this, in this application, we introduced a journey map where the user will have to follow and carry on different tasks and challenges. During the journey, the user will have to meet various points and people to complete the overall task. The below images show the journey map of the user and some of the simple sub-tasks that the user will have to complete. 
  1. Social network: In games when players have interaction with other players or characters in the game, that gives a satisfactory feeling and creates a great game experience. Users can interact when they are stuck or need help.

In order to complete a subtask, the user will have to confirm it by taking a picture of the QR code or the image of the ticket. This way the users are encouraged to have micro-interactions which in turn will encourage the users to these small activities and progress in the task.  

To encourage users to participate in group activities, we provide group activities more points than individual activities.

We also allow users to invite other people once the group activity has started. We wanted to encourage users to meet different people by allowing users to explore other users in the physical neighborhood.


Gamification is a method used by designers to create elements that are inspired by gameplay in a non-gaming application in order to improve the user’s experience and engagement with the application, product or service. While developing this app we tried to combine various gamification elements such as rewards, timeline, story, social network, personalization, progression, etc. This experience helped me to learn how I could use the gamification elements in designing my user experience. 




[3] Morrison, Catriona M., and Helen Gore. “The relationship between excessive Internet use and depression: a questionnaire-based study of 1,319 young people and adults.” Psychopathology 43.2 (2010): 121-126.

[4] Ebesutani, Chad, et al. “The role of loneliness in the relationship between anxiety and depression in clinical and school‐based youth.” Psychology in the Schools 52.3 (2015): 223-234.

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