Finalist 2023

Chop Out Convos: Supporting mental health of tradies

IPC Health / No Moss / Tradies of West Melbourne

The Chop Out Convos app equips tradies to support their struggling workmates, to give them a “chop out”.

There is a mental health crisis affecting young Australian male tradies. They are at a disproportionately higher risk of suffering from mental health related issues and suicide.

Chop Out Convos is an app, built by and for tradies, that creates real, positive mental health impact for tradies who need to feel heard and supported. It supports the confidence of young tradies to check in with their workmates, through an engaging and interactive experience that is true and authentic to Australian tradie culture and idiosyncrasies.

Chop Out Convos equips tradies to support their struggling workmates, to give them a “chop out”.

Design Brief:

It’s important for young men to build strong social connections and support each other in tough times. However for young tradies, multiple barriers exist when it comes to having open conversations about mental health.

These barriers include tradie workplace culture, social ridicule when showing vulnerability and a sense of shame about having open mental health conversations, and barriers across gender and age. Additionally, tradies are unsure about how to start a tough conversation, and are worried and anxious about saying the wrong thing, or as one tradie said to us, “stepping my foot into it”.

IPC Health and No Moss partnered to design and build a mental health app that builds tradie’s confidence in checking in with each other about their mental health. Chop Out Convos aims to equip tradies with lifelong skills so they check in with each other confidently and build strong social connections.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

We followed the triple diamond as our design approach to meet the design brief: quantitative and focus group research during the first diamond (Research), design sprints during the second diamond (Experiment), and dual track discovery and delivery during the final diamond (Deliver).

The sensitive nature of mental health services requires us to have the right voices in the room, and involving expert mental health and tradie voices as early as possible was crucial to this app delivering maximum social impact and care to tradies. Chop Out Convos is co-designed with licensed counsellors, psychologists, and community mental health experts, and their early decision making was crucial to the app's shape and design.

We used Design Sprints to quickly collaborate and co-design a service that would place tradies’ needs at the centre of everything we did. Based on emerging user outcomes, we produced multiple high-fidelity, click-through prototypes, tested early with tradies, with each prototype building on the feedback received from the last round.

Using Design Sprints outcomes, a beta app was built with close developer and design collaboration using dual track development methods, and uploaded to the Apple Testflight store, with further tradie feedback sought.

We were able to meet and exceed the brief due to extensive testing to help design the app for maximum social impact. By the end of the design process, we had put the app in the hands of almost 50 tradies, both onsite at a major Victorian trade school and over Zoom, whose real customer feedback drove good design.

We also collaborated with Movember Foundations, Hope Assistance Local Tradies (HALT), a not-for-profit mental health and wellbeing charity for tradies, and Victoria University’s trade school. We are eternally grateful to the lecturers and students for opening up their hearts to us.

Design Excellence

Chop Out Convo's strength lies in its hyperlocalised design - for the tradies of Melbourne's West - that can easily be scale up across cities and industries.

Chop Out Convos shows how setting up rigorous and excellent design standards supports the holistic design and delivery of the project. The deliberate use of Design Sprints allowed us to consider and cover intersections of business strategy, innovation, behavioural science, and design thinking methodologies, resulting in:

  • An instantly familiar and credible mental health service for young tradies, provided through a clean, well designed app that follows best iOS design patterns
  • Increased confidence of tradies who desire to check in on their workmates, and normalising checking-in
  • The app being backed by reliable and tested mental health frameworks. “A.L.E.C.” is a four-step approach to help men approach tough convos that was developed by RUOK? and used by Movember.

The final design solution is built on multiple rounds of user experience testing.

Other user experience considerations, uncovered and refined through multiple rounds of feedback, delivers an app that provides quick and efficient mental health support that brings the tradie to where they need to be in 2 taps or less, and WCAG compliant accessible colour scheme which makes the app readable and visible in places where tradies are likely to use the app, such as an outdoor construction site.

Considerations of safety are paramount when considering mental health services, especially the incorporation of AI.

Harnessing AI (GPT3.5) in an ethical manner makes the app conversation experience elegant, and keeps the tradie engaged. The team incorporated clever prompt engineering: The AI is prompted to respond, based on its interpretation of the tradie's intention, from a safelist created in consultation with mental health experts, ensuring advice given is positive, safe, and vetted by clinicians and experts.

Design Innovation

Chop Out Convos holds a space for tradies, to allow them to feel heard, and to boost their confidence in mental health conversations. It utilises AI for a good cause, using technological resources to empower fellow humans to design a better future.

Chop Out Convos is unique and innovative: there’s currently nothing on the App store like it. The current mental health app landscape is saturated with apps either focusing on general mental health, such as online talk therapy, mood trackers and meditation, or apps servicing better work logistics for tradies, such as rostering, freelance markets, and construction invoicing.

Chop Out Convos uniquely positioned to focus on targeting the intersection of the aforementioned 2 categories. By leaning in and relating to tradies' most vulnerable lived experiences, and acknowledging the pressures of their work and personal lives, Chop Out Convos helps tradies easily identify with mental health services targeted for them.

Chop Out Convos incorporates world-first features, such as AI supported education, backed by a mental health framework by RUOK?, and is built by tradies for tradies.

The name of Chop Out Convos was co-designed by our mental health expert, as the phrase "Chop Out" was described as “giving someone a chop out”... It’s synonymous with helping a mate, and I’ve heard it at least 100 times [onsite] this week". We tested the name with tradies and support for it was unanimous. It's a phrase that immediately resonates with our target demographic and demonstrates the power of listening to the right voices.

Design Impact

Young Australian tradies are at disproportionately higher risk of suffering from mental health related issues, compounded by modern Australian tradie culture’s relationship to expressions of masculinity. They also face higher barriers of access when seeking help and connecting with mental healthcare services.

Chop Out Convos aims to be a part of the wider movement to support mental health awareness in young men. This is achieved through having a real, positive social impact on the young tradies of Melbourne’s Western suburbs, challenging the stigma of help seeking, and normalising mental health conversations.

Chop Out Convos has received positive feedback: “I think the most valuable thing for me… is being able to [gain] an understanding on how to reach out better to others going through something similar to what I went through…”. In-app scenarios, hyper specific to young tradie life, such as financial issues, gambling addiction and substance abuse, were all well received and relatable, with one tradie commenting “It’s more for tradie related issues so it’s easy to help”.

Chop Out Convos helped 90% of tradies reflect on their own mental health. We tracked a significant increase in tradie’s confidence and skills & knowledge of having a mental health conversation with a workmate, and 72% of tradies reached out to a workmate to ask how they're doing after using Chop Out Convos.

Chop Out Convos’s focus on tradies will potentially affect up to 30% of the working Australian population. It aims to increase a tradie’s confidence in themselves when reaching out to a workmate, while simultaneously giving space for internal reflection, equipping them with lifelong skills about their mental health.

We hope Chop Out Convos inspires more dedicated resources to a community in Australia that employs a significant number of Australians, which is traditionally underserved and underrepresented in the mental health space.

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