Good Design Award for Head to Health

The Department of Health the Aged Care (DOHAC), The University of Melbourne and web designers Liquid interactive and Speedwell have been recognised in this year’s Australian Good Design Awards.

The prestigious Award for Excellence in Design and Innovation was awarded to the Head to Health national mental health  website. It was recognised for approaching an important service with respect and creativity. The comprehensive research behind the design allows for a personalised user experience, connecting information, programs and services from across the mental health service system.

By assessing an individual’s situation, the best options for care are identified – directing users to face to face, phone, or online support.

Components of the model of care that underpin the consumer facing quiz on the Head to Health website were developed over many years through two randomised controlled trials (Target-D and Link-Me) following on from the Diamond Longitudinal cohort study, all led by Professor Jane Gunn, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

“We’re delighted that the Head to Health website has been recognised by the Good Design Awards. The website has come about through fruitful collaborations to fill a gap in tailored mental health care in our community and is underpinned by many years of rigorous co-designed research,” said Professor Gunn.

Population-wide mental health is a complex and sensitive issue that needed a new approach in the wake of COVID-19. This award for the new Head to Health website recognises how the digital Head to Health team took human-centred design to the next level to meet the challenge in a timely way.

The result is an integrated, personalised experience that is helping more Australians who are experiencing mental health challenges (and the people who support them) find a path forward, and access services that are right for them.

The University of Melbourne team led by Dr Cath Kaylor-Hughes, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of General Practice and Primary Care was engaged as a partner since early 2022 to embed components of the Link-Me Model of Care into the quiz on the website, and to monitor its rollout to ensure its accuracy and function, as intended. The team also provide mental health professional advice on the recommended services, content, language, and research evaluation.

Dr Caroline Johnson and Dr Kylie McKenzie, were both key members of the team in roles as a General Practitioner (GP) with a special interest in mental health and psychologist, respectively. Dr McKenzie was also involved in the original Link-Me trial.

“As a GP-researcher, the Link-Me model emerged from the experiences of people attending Australian general practices. So, it is real-world data that takes into account much more than someone’s symptoms of depression and, or anxiety. It looks at the person more holistically and takes their goals as well as their context into account,” said Dr Johnson.

“With GPs providing the bulk of mental health care via the health system in Australia, it is great to be able to work with DOHAC to build evidence-informed models that aim to improve navigation options for our patients,” she said.

“The Head to Health website incorporates some of the key motivational principles from the Link-Me model; using engaging and collaborative language, tailoring information to the person’s interests and needs, and providing a range of options to promote choice,” said Dr McKenzie.

Using the Link-Me as a care navigation model, the Department of Health and Aged Care’s existing Head to Health website has been transformed into a comprehensive national mental health service navigation website..

This team continues to audit the Link-Me model of care components and provides recommendations for users to ensure service quality.

Commissioned by the Department of Health and Aged Care, Liquid and Speedwell led the design and delivery of this important national resource, working with over 350 collaborators and contributors from all walks of life and professions.