Survey results and analysis
Welcome to the third article in our Design for Mental Health project on Stress. In this post we will be discussing the results from our survey on wellbeing habits to combat stress. We will also be describing how we use the data we collected to identify major design opportunities.
Why are surveys valuable to us?
Surveys are useful research tools for us to collect contextual primary data - to hear directly from the people who will become our users can be incredibly valuable. To make sure the data we collect is beneficial, we start by outlining our objectives. We wanted to find out:
- How the general public perceive stress.
- What aspects in people's lives are affected by stress.
- How people tend to deal with stress in general.
- What therapeutic aids do people use to deal with stress (ie: what products/services do they use).
- What methods do they use to prevent stress.
- How comfortable are people with talking about mental health.
The sample collected was n=53 participants from the UK with mixed genders including non-binary and a non-specified option.
The survey we produced can be found here
After gathering the results of the survey and performing thematic analysis across the question responses, we were able to categorise the results into five key insight areas that relate back to our original survey objectives;
- Discovering the causes of people’s Stress
- People’s ability / inability to identify Stress
- Methods of dealing with the symptoms of Stress
- Methods of preventing Stress
- People’s perception of Stress
Insight Area 1: Discovering the causes of stress
We found that pressure and lack of control are major contributing factors in triggering people's stress (supported by answers to survey Q7). Two thirds of people’s stressful moments are mostly triggered by:
- Time pressure
- External Pressure
- Self Pressure
These results demonstrated that our participants placed very high expectations on themselves to achieve their goals, and that this is often combined with external pressures in the workplace, either from colleagues or time pressures like looming deadlines.
When pressure reaches a person's limit, they start to feel a lack of control in their lives, making them feel unable to use their normal coping mechanisms.
Mind (2022) describes that being prepared for periods of stress can make it easier to get through them - and knowing how to manage our Wellbeing can help us recover quicker and more effectively after a stressful event.
In their section on Mental Resilience, they describe a range of methods to manage stress. However, Mind also admits that there are ‘factors that might make it harder to be resilient, such as experiencing discrimination or lacking support.’ This refers to prejudices such as racism and sexism, and the range of presentations including experiencing microaggressions. If you would like to learn more about how to combat these more complex issues please refer to the link below:
Insight Area 2: People’s ability/inability to identify stress
In the scenarios participants described, we found that their stress is only recognised after it is too late to do something proactive about it. Cleveland Clinic (2021) explains how even though stress can help the body face stressful situations through the ‘Fight or Flight response’, when a person has long-term (chronic) stress, continued activation of the stress response causes wear and tear on the body (physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms develop).
Our survey findings highlighted an opportunity for us to help people better recognise their recurring triggers and events they find the most stressful, and this insight on the long term impact of stress reinforced our initial assumptions around stress triggers being harmful to people over longer periods of time.
Insight Area 3: Methods of dealing with stress
In questions about therapeutic methods, over two thirds of people said that they liked to use sensory or mindfulness based therapeutic aids as a way of dealing with their stress (supported by answers to Q8 and Q9).
We found that the participants tended to use more immediate (‘bite-size’) methods during the day, and spend longer on their wellbeing in the mornings and evenings (supported by answers to Q10).
This highlighted an opportunity for us to leverage the preference for - and existing mental models of - sensory/mindfulness based therapeutic solutions, and provided an interesting insight around differing levels of time commitment for our concept creation phase.
Insight Area 4: Methods of preventing stress
We found over three quarters of participants addressed the symptoms of their stress rather than the root causes (supported by answers to Q8). The majority of people perceived exercise as a method of preventing stress, as well as treating their symptoms of stress (supported by answers to Q8 and Q12)
One way of helping people with this issue could be to promote an active approach to stress prevention by addressing the causes rather than solely treating the symptoms.
Exercise is accessible and familiar to many people, but may not necessarily actively address the causes of stress, despite many people viewing it as a preventative measure.
Many solutions to stress prevention are not as accessible to people, leaving exercise as a ‘fall back’. However, we found that participants did mention a high barrier to entry when searching for exercise solutions, such as; requiring a regular routine, buying expensive and large equipment, large behavioural shifts and technical barriers. This is further supported by our second article on the market landscape of therapeutic aids currently on the market. To take a look see link: here
Insight Area 5: People’s perception of stress
The definitions of ‘wellbeing’ among participants were somewhat varied, however many people in the survey said that ‘good wellbeing’ to them is being happy/content, balanced and resilient. (Supported by answers to Q13).
In order to feel confident enough to speak to others about their mental health, many participants entered answers about feeling comfortable in their environment. However, even though many of the participants said they were comfortable speaking about their mental health, they still felt a perceived stigma around the topic (supported by answers to Q14 and Q15).
Mind (2017) details a wide range of ways to tackle the stigma of mental health in society in order to empower people with mental health problems to speak about their wellbeing, and ultimately seek help if needed. Three in particular we felt were most relevant for this project were:
- Showing people reliable information to help them understand more about what a person's mental health diagnosis really means.
- Knowing your rights. Mind has a page on your legal rights here which provides information on your rights in a wide range of situations.
- Being involved in a campaign. Being part of a group with a collective goal can help improve your confidence in speaking about a chosen topic, especially when with like-minded individuals.
If you would like to learn more about other options to help tackle stigma on mental health please see the link: here
This phase of our Design for Mental Health project was a crucial point in our process. The survey results gave us the qualitative and quantitative data we required to mitigate our riskiest assumptions. Some of the most important insights we gained from this phase have helped us develop the material we needed for putting together accurate personas and day-in-the-life user journeys (which we will be discussing in our next post!). All imperative requirements for a product to successfully fulfil our target user needs.
We hope you enjoyed this third edition of the design for mental health. Stay tuned for our next release in the coming weeks.
Cleveland Clinic. (2021) Stress, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress (Accessed on 12 July 2022)
Mind. (2011), How can I deal with Stigma?, Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/stigma-misconceptions/ (Accessed on 12 July 2022)
Mind. (2022) Managing Stress and Building Resilience, Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/managing-stress-and-building-resilience/ (Accessed on 12 July 2022)
Background Image, Meyer M, (2018), Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/SYTO3xs06fU, (Accessed on: 19 July 2022)