UX - UI - Wireframing - Prototyping - Visual Design

About 75% of people aged 14-24 start to experience depression, yet it still takes us up to 10 years to properly diagnose IT.

The reason why may have to do with the social stigma about mental illness. Many people out there believe that if they speak up about the way they feel people are going to think that there is something wrong with them and perceive them as weaker. But in fact, reaching out for help is a strength, not a weakness-it shows your will to help yourself. So how do we start healthy conversation around the topic amongst young adults? Especially during a time of change when they may already be experiencing feelings of uncertainty. Another reason why it may be taking us so long to diagnose depression is because young adults who have never experienced it as kids have no idea what it feels like.


Teenagers and young adults who begin to experience signs of depression are unable to identify early symptoms because they don’t know what depression is.


Depression is often defined in ways that are more useful to people treating depression (like psychiatrists) than to people experiencing depression. Depression is such a broad and complex subject that explaining depression to laypeople doesn’t really help them.

Let’s put it this way:

Is someone more likely to understand depression on an emotional level if it’s defined as “meeting a clinically significant threshold of depressive symptoms?” Or are they more likely to understand Winston Churchill’s analogy that having depression is like having “a monkey on your back?”

People don’t need to be diagnose themselves with depression -- diagnosis is for medical professionals -- they need to know how depression feels so they’ll think about talking to someone.



Establish a program that partners with schools, and helps teenagers and young adults better understand depression, as well as offer different kinds of support.

Spiraling Up is a brand aiming to explain how depression feels in ways people will emotionally understand. Our project is for young people to have an emotional understanding of depression so that they will know to seek help if they experience depression.

There are three major components to the program: a book, an application, and a website.

The books are an analog tool for students to internalize what they may be going through, and have a conversation with themselves.

The application is a digital platform that allows students to connect to others.

The website is for third parties, such as parents, to learn about the program and stay informed.


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The books will provide a holistic look at what the symptoms of depression might look like in young people, taking a holistic look at what depression is.

Each book starts with an intro which explains Spiraling Up’s purpose.

It’s followed by a series of poems and short stories which tries to impart an emotional understanding of what depression feels like, written a variety of ways so there’s a higher chance readers will find an analogy that clicks with them.

A second section contains exercise pages like a calendar, doodle pages, a gratitude list, monthly goals, and an event calendar to give students the tools to check in with themselves.

The final page has a QR code which connects users to a list of resources for seeking treatment for their zip code, preventing readers who decide to seek help from getting frustrated reaching out to someone who isn’t in a position to help them.

We’ll distribute three books to high schoolers which progressively teaches students about depression and coping mechanisms. We’ll have guidance counselors introduce the books the second semester of junior year. Guidance counselors will serve as the primary point of contact between Spiraling Up and students. The second book will be released the fall of senior year and the third and final book will be released before graduation.

Click through to go through one of the books.

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The app helps students connect with each other and streamlines the first steps towards seeking treatment by a health professional.

The Spiraling Up app aims to make the first steps towards seeking help easier, less lonely, and less daunting. It helps students connect with each other and participate in groups with similar interests in a safe and moderated environment.


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Upon downloading the app, users are greeted with the welcome screen and asked to agree to the terms and conditions. Students register their account through their school and begin building their account with a customizable avatar. They answer a quick prompt to gauge their mental health state and are given the option to choose different conversational groups that might be of their interest.

To keep the conversations structured, the topics are grouped in four different categories-- school, career, emotional, and other. If the student chooses to view only groups within one subject, they can easily do so. For example, if one is interested in only the “emotional” groups they can visit the tab and choose their interests. Through the “group” tab they can view all of the groups they have followed. They can post, open others’ posts to read the full story, and like, comment, or even direct message the person regarding their post.

There’s also a news feed where they can view the app’s most popular public posts. They can view a map with hotspots, which are color coordinated according to the four categories, with a map that shows local posts.

Users can visit their profile at any time where they can see their reward points. Interacting with the app awards reward points. Users can exchange points for discounts on college applications through the Common App.

Most importantly, we want students to be able to stay in touch with their guidance counselors and easily connect with them. Students can schedule an appointment with their guidance counselor or ask them questions through the app. Additionally, the app will point students to relevant medical professionals.


Discussion threads allow for the students to have group conversations around mental health, and anything that may impact it.

The conversation map indicates active users across the country, logged in by school, and students can click on the active dots to start one-on-one conversations.


Students can message their guidance counselors, schedule appointments, and access emergency resources if needed.


Students can view the program’s upcoming events, also listed in the book, and add them to their own schedule for a customized calendar.


The website is for third parties, such as parents, and anyone generally interested, to learn more about the program and stay updated. It informs people of the book, the application, how they interact, as well as the events happening.


We created Spiraling Up merchandise to hand out to students of participating schools. We want to create a sense of community, and merchandise is a unifying factor that can help do just that.



To get some feedback on the overall concept and brand, we conducted an interview with administrative director of a behavioral and emotional health institute in Richmond, Virginia. She said that she thought it was a great idea that could live in the real world. She also offered some suggestions, which are in the video below.

Marcie J. Walsh, PhD
Administrative Director, College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute (COBE)
Course Coordinator, The Science of Happiness


Ben Gross (AD)
Patrick Lampera (CW)
Elise Sokolowski (XD)
Linda Kirova (XD)