Neolth is a digital solution that offers stress and mental health support to teens and young adults through their self-guided platform.
January 2, 2023 - Walnut Creek, CA
There’s been a growing need for youth mental health services over the past decade, with technology services emerging as a solution for this generation of digital natives (Wiens et al., 2020; Gill et al., 2017; Adams et al., 2021; Toscos et al., 2019; Wyatt et al., 2021). Gen Z consumers increasingly prefer personalized experiences, and mental health apps are no exception. Research with adolescents indicates they prefer mobile apps with personalized features, with one study finding the only factor more important than personalization was usability (Alqahtani & Orji, 2020). “Personalized resources are helpful when I don’t know where to start” - said one teen during Neolth’s design sessions.
To customize their app experience, some companies personalize content based on users’ mental health needs. Yet little has been done to investigate if colors should be personalized based on an individual’s preference or mental health goals.
Neolth partnered with BizLab Solutions to conduct an investigation on adolescent’s color preferences for a mental health app. Biz Lab Solutions is a design consultancy firm based in Des Moines, Iowa. A multi-phase research project was executed in 2022, headed by Jeff Reed. 1,023 pieces of feedback were collected from 62 adolescents and young adults (AYAs) ages 14-22 years.
The initial research phase involved designing color palettes and observing preferences. Blue hues across color palette options were perceived as soothing, calming and well-aligned well with the goal for reducing stress. Monochromatic blue schemes were thought to be lacking contrast, with AYAs wanting a gradient design and pops of unique colors added to a blue theme. There was a strong preference not to make colors too bright or bold, as is found in some rainbow-themed apps.
Following the color palette research, mockups were created to test emerging design themes. Major findings included there was no one color theme that was most preferred and that AYA’s reasoning for using a mental health app shifts throughout the day. For example, AYAs may use the app in the morning to feel energized, in the afternoon to satisfy curiosity about a mental health question, and at night to wind down before bed.
Based on this insight, the designers tested a theory about mood and time-based color themes. Results were conclusive: 97% of AYAs said personalization in mental health apps is critical; 91% wanted color themes matched to time of day; and 94% felt color themes should change automatically throughout the day.
“I found the results of this research project fascinating,” said Neolth’s Co-founder & CEO Dr. Katherine Grill. “Most research on color is meant to help businesses with brand identity and used to influence purchasing decisions. As we build products that are meant to support health, we also need to consider how color affects engagement and clinical outcomes. I’m excited to see how Neolth’s customizable theming influences adolescents’ interactions with the app and how we can use these insights to further advance their wellbeing.”
Introducing Neolth Customizable Theming
Starting in January 2023, users will have the time-based color theming enabled on their Neolth account. This means the colors within the Neolth app will change automatically based on the time of day (morning, afternoon, nighttime). Users can select their favorite color theme, thereby opting-out of time-based theming, within their profile settings. Options include three new color palettes (featured above), as well as the classic Neolth teal blue and white.
Color theming is available on all of Neolth’s product: the self-guided mobile app for ages 11+, the educator platform, and the health analytics portal. Schools or organizations who want to bring Neolth to their community should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Neolth, a global leader in youth mental health, was founded in 2018 with the goal of improving access to mental health support for students. With its suite of digital tools, Neolth has reached students at more than 350 schools across 35 states in the US. The company is also active in the corporate sector, providing Neolth as a member benefit to students who are part of payor networks, academic service organizations, and financial corporations. The company has been recognized for their work as the winner of the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Youth Mental Health Challenge, CB Insights Top 150 in Digital Health in 2022, West Coast Winner of the 2022 Global EdTech Startup Awards, and more. For further information, visit www.neolth.com