Adding content can be easy too. Every minute thousands of people add blogs and content to their site in less time than it takes to drink a cup of tea.
However, when your website will hold vital information on psychiatric medication prescribed to help people stay safe and manage a mental illness, building a website and adding content is not so straightforward, especially when getting it wrong, or presenting it in an ambiguous way, could negatively affect thousands of young people.
This was the challenge we faced when we were awarded an Innovation Labs grant to develop a website on mental health medication for young people.
We were really excited to be chosen and are delighted that HeadMeds will launch in March or April. However, until then here’s what we’ve learnt from the process.
More Content on Less Meds, or Less Content on More Meds?
There are over 100 mental health medications available under prescription for young people. Describing how each one works, how it’s taken, its common and rare side effects and how it interacts with other substances is not straightforward.
Young people often have questions concerning everyday issues such as how their medication interacts with alcohol but they may not know to ask about how it affects sunbathing (at least one medication makes you more susceptible to sunburn). The list of potential questions and extra information for each medication is long and needs to be covered in depth to give young people all the information they need.
For the HeadMeds team of young people and YoungMinds staff this meant making a hard decision about how many different medications the site would be able to provide in-depth and accessible information for. We wanted to cover every possible bit of information on each possible drug. We wanted our guide to be definitive.
However, even though we found a brilliant pharmaceutical expert Dr Nicola Grey who was as excited about the project as us, we knew that we had to set realistic goals for the number of medications we could produce high quality information on in a format tailored to the 16-25 year old audience.
We decided that HeadMeds will initially cover the 21 most prescribed medications and launch it to coincide with YoungMinds’ 21st birthday. This is still an ambitious target to deliver on and maintain but we’re confident that Nicola and our team will manage it.
Medication Information Needs to Be Accurate
The volume of information is also a potential legal minefield.
If we get any of the information on HeadMeds wrong, then the consequences for young people taking our advice is potentially lethal. To tackle this Nicola has produced content in conjunction with our steering group of pharmaceutical and mental health experts to ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep young people safe and supported to make well-informed choices about their medication. The information will also be regularly reviewed by the Royal College for Mental Health Pharmacy.
As part of this we’ve also produced legally approved disclaimers and will be seeking legal advice to make sure that we’ve fully understood YoungMinds’ liabilities in relation to HeadMeds.
More Stakeholders Means a Longer Process
There is a lot of people interested in HeadMeds.
We’ve got the Royal College of GPs involved, The College of Mental Health Pharmacy, a group of young people, some of whom sit on our Expert Reference Group and our web developers, TicToc. That’s a lot of people’s views to solicit and interests to consider. While all their input has been useful and important, it’s taken some time to gather it when we’ve had important decisions to make.
Working this way has meant it’s taken longer to develop HeadMeds’ concept, refine its features and produce and test content. However, we’ve now got more support and involvement from each stakeholder. They will now feel confident in recommending it. This will help drive HeadMeds’ user adoption and keep its profile active among young people and medical experts.
Balance External Expertise with Internal Decision Making
Creating HeadMeds has been a new digital venture for YoungMinds. We’ve had some good support from consultants like who have helped us with our thinking at key points.
The most useful part of their input though is that it has helped us reflect and discover faith in our own judgement and decision-making about HeadMeds. Combining their specific expertise with our hands on knowledge of the project itself has helped us develop new skills and build YoungMinds’ capacity for designing and developing digital products.
Understand the Potential for Failure
HeadMeds has been a huge part of the project team’s working lives for the last 12 months. We’re doing all we can to make it a huge success.
However, we have also been encouraged to think “what if it isn’t a success?” What if it doesn’t get used as much as we expect? What then? If this happens what would our exit plan be? The idea of HeadMeds failing in any way isn’t a pleasant thought but its one we have to consider and have a plan for.
Understand the Consequences of Success
Of course HeadMeds could also be widely adopted and embraced by young people who find its information helpful in managing their medication and condition.
If this happens then we’ll need to generate more income to keep content fresh and accurate, and to add more information as its need emerges. HeadMeds will need new revenue streams and a sustainable business model.
The Challenge Has Yet to Begin
The work so far has all been a huge learning curve. However, our feeling is that the real challenge begins post-launch with growing HeadMeds’ audience, keeping content reviewed, relevant and up to date and demonstrating its impact in a way that makes the case for continued funding or investment a powerful one.
Building HeadMeds is the important first step, but it’s only the beginning of the journey.