Mijn Hulplijn: An intervention to empower youngsters in decision making in (j)-GGZ therapy

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Extensive waiting times for youth Mental Healthcare have a significantly negative effect on youngsters well-being. The Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport (Ministry of VWS) therefore commissioned Shoshin to research the cause of waiting times in order to address them. Shoshin is a social design agency that believes waiting times are not only the result of a shortage of staff, but also of inefficiencies and ineffective elements in the youth care system. They aim to make strategic interventions to create true system change (Haarlemmer et al.).

This thesis aims to support Shoshin in their mission to reduce waiting times for youngsters. Youngsters are defined as 16 till 23 year people in this report.

Specifically, the aim of this graduation project is to come up with a design that helps youngsters get more appropriate care. According to Van der Bijl-Brouwer (2021) systemic problems (such as problems in the mental youth care sytem) are interrelated and can therefore not be solved independently. Therefore reseach was conducted in various contexts regarding the youth Mental Healthcare system:

1) The organisation involved with decisions regarding the youth care system. (Macro context)

2) The process of getting into care. (Meso context)

3) The interaction between youngsters and their therapists. (Micro context)

These analyses showed that youngsters often feel unheard and are not included in decision making. Therapists rely too much on their own vision and focus too little on background/individual factors of the youngsters. This leads to missing the core of the youngsters mental problems, which contributes greatly to ineffective and inefficient care. The analyses also showed that youth Mental Healthcare (j-GGZ) therapists are the most promising target audience to design for. In fact, other therapists - such as district members or therapists of the child and family centre (CJG) - often do not have the skills to find the core of the youngsters’ mental problems as they are often not specialized enough.

Following these analyses, the design goal has been to empower youngsters in decision making during GGZ therapy. A “Mijn Hulplijn” app was developed that helps youngsters to actually give feedback and incorporate it into therapy. The app allows youngsters to think of their own needs and wants in therapy, and helps to actually incorporate this as well. Moreover, it provides background information that is relevant for the therapist in question. Furthermore, the app offers suggestions for alternative therapies and gives an overview of the youngsters’ healthcare history. This way, the app can improve the success of the therapy and the youngster-therapist interaction. To actually make and measure this impact, this study also provided a plan for implementation of the app.