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Ground-breaking change for people with complex mental health


People living with complex mental health issues face stigma, discrimination and a system that makes it difficult to access the services and supports they need.

Removing inequities and social and economic exclusion for these people is the driving force behind SANE – an organisation grounded in advocating for people with complex mental health issues. To address the challenges experienced by people with complex mental health, SANE needed to shift their focus towards providing access to life-changing support for these 2 million+ Australians

The challenge

With a clear need for more and better support services, SANE received funding from the Australian government to put their plan into action and reach the people most impacted, with the greatest barriers. We joined in to help SANE navigate this significant transformation, designing a ground-breaking digital support service, a bold and fearless brand narrative and a cut-through visual identity.

We worked alongside the good people from Nous as they facilitated a new strategic plan for the organisation and the Alive National Centre for Mental Health Research Translation a specialist mental health implementation research group.


Customer research
Brand strategy & identity
Service design
User experience design

Designing a personalised digital service

We complemented existing research with our own user research and co-design activities. We talked with people living with complex mental health and their carers to uncover their challenges, needs and how they access support. Our research led us to understand that for people with complex mental health, safe, flexible support options and personalised services are incredibly important.

To explore the hypothesis that SANE had about how the service should be designed, we created a series of workshops and guided the team through mapping the end-to-end service using experience principles, scenarios, and detailed personas. Over a series of rapid design sprints, we tested different aspects of the service with people with lived experience and specifically those with autism and intellectual disabilities.

We focused our efforts on key moments in their journey. This included ensuring that onboarding to the service was simple and personalised, that navigating the portal was intuitive, and that booking crucial support sessions was effortless.

At the heart of the experience was an engaging, relatable and encouraging tone of voice that supported people to navigate their options and helped ensure that their interactions were more than transactional.

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A breakthrough narrative

With a new vision and service about to reshape how people see and experience SANE, the brand narrative needed to change too. The brand had to be more customer-facing and connect with people with complex mental health issues amongst a crowded and confusing sea of mental health brands. SANE was ready to break barriers, raise expectations and not hide behind the uncomfortable bits.

We created the bold brand idea ‘breakthrough complexity’ to frame this new narrative and an identity that consciously opposes the ‘comforting’ attitude that most mental health brands adopt. ‘Complex’ does not fit neatly or conform, and neither would this brand. SANE’s identity is crafted around making space for difference. Letters grow and shrink out of place; shapes are disrupted, and colours are unapologetic – creating a fearless voice for change and a strong coherent presence across all moments.

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The outcome

Our collaboration with SANE supported them as they successfully navigated the first tricky stage of transformation to create a support service that’s been designed to grow and a re-energised brand that will cut-through in the crowded mental health landscape.

Together this signals big change for the organisation; for people with complex mental health issues and for the Australian mental health system more broadly.

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This project won Gold in the Web Design and Development category at the 2022 Australian Good Design Awards – one of the longest-running international design awards, showcasing the very best in design and innovation since 1958.

Read more about this prestigious award win here.