It was tough coming up with an idea. I initially wanted to focus on improving the payment and transfer process for public transportation in Toronto. However, with plans of Presto becoming city-wide by the end of this year, I thought perhaps this could take a backseat for the time being. Torontonians will be able to provide more valuable feedback about the payment and transfer process once the Presto system is at full force.

I then decided to focus on wellness, more specifically mental health in Toronto. I hear mental health being discussed just about everyday by young people in this city whether it be by people I know, strangers in public places or on social media platforms. It is a subject that affects everybody, but particularly young people as they are trying to navigate through life, frequently feeling that they lack a grasp on this so-called and over-exaggerated life. Young adults no longer entirely able to depend on their families for financial assistance, and are struggling to make a living on their own as they have to pay for school, rent, food, public transportation and bills. Young adults struggling in this superficial age of dating to meet a person that actually isn`t confused or flimsy. Young adults desiring to find a school program and career that compliments passion with opportunity and advancement in the work force that will bring about financial stability, but have not yet discovered a program that speaks to them, or the how-to of getting hired by a company that`s stormed with equally qualified graduates. With all these challenges at the forefront for young adults, with some middle-aged adults included as the themes of finances, career and partnership are common, it is no wonder why many are struggling to balance and cope with mental health. The greater the number, the impact on other life areas and the length of these challenges, their life feels just so goddamn intense.

On a personal level, emotional and mental health struggles have been a part of my life since a child. I needed better role models that would `walk the talk` and a larger support system. I was an only child, I was frustrated and I had emotional struggles both at home and at school. It was difficult. Then last fall, for the first time a physical health challenge took me by surprise. It came with the possibility of reducing my life, and I couldn`t make sense of it for a while. I was scared to death, literally. I confided in a friend about what I was facing. I felt comfortable to speak to her because I knew she had educated herself about the topic and faced many physical and mental health challenges on a daily basis so she had that type of understanding and empathy, and she is always open to listening. She and I shared similar challenges in the areas of dating and career and although our physical health challenges were vastly different, through discussion with her, I realized as a first-timer with a physical ailment how alone you can feel, especially if what you are diagnosed with is not a common one. Together, we thought, with shared feelings, once impacted by mental health or physical challenges, let`s start a support group and meet once at least month! We started to elaborate on this idea - create a buddy system of support for attending appointments, involving participants in ideas for discussion topics, promoting awareness and education in the community to name a few.

As a wanna-be user experience designer, I want to find out what from an objective lens more about the problems us `big kids` are facing in how we receive support for our mental health and physical challenges. With common problem trends, I want to design an app that will fill in the gaps for receiving adequate support. It`s only the beginning but with such passion and a relatable topic, I`m hopeful!

- Rochelle Pinto