Mental wellbeing support app

Areas of expertise


Samaritans is an emotional health charity which aims to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide primarily through their free 24/7 listening service. Alongside this and their self-help app, which are available to anyone, Samaritans also look to support specific communities who are among the most vulnerable in society. This includes people in the Armed Forces, or those who have been in the past. The suicide risk for young men who have served in the Armed Forces is three times higher than the risk for the same age group in the general population.

Following a period of consultation with other relevant charities, research bodies and the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Samaritans identified a gap in the emotional health support provided to Armed Forces personnel. To resolve this issue, they planned to develop a mobile app to promote awareness of emotional health and wellbeing amongst service leavers. The app would support them in managing their own emotional health both during and after their transition to civilian life.

The challenge

When they leave the military, veterans are not just leaving a job; they’re leaving a lifestyle, a home, a community, and entering a world which is in many cases entirely unfamiliar. Whilst many struggle with at least some aspects of that transition, emotional health and wellbeing is still a taboo subject in many places across modern society.

There remains a perception in the military in particular that struggling to cope is a sign of weakness, or that others will see it as such. In an environment where being a team player, physical fitness, and the ability to operate in high stress situations are so important, individuals can feel even more pressure to ‘just get on with it’ or ‘man up’ when managing with their emotional wellbeing.

Service leavers as a group overall are particularly ill-equipped to recognise poor emotional health, to know how to get support, and to feel able to do this. Samaritans approached Saffron with the aim of reaching this audience, who are more likely to need support in managing their emotional health but less likely to ask for it.

Why Saffron?

Samaritans had worked with Saffron in the past to develop their volunteer training module on supporting callers from the Armed Forces. They’d been impressed with our behavioural focussed approach to learning, commitment to quality and ambitious graphic design and development. Saffron also had some existing knowledge of the intended audience and the life experiences they may have had. However, it was the user journey that we proposed for this project which sealed the deal. Samaritans could see that we’d quickly digested the aims and audience needs to develop impactful ideas for how best to support veterans and early service leavers.

Our approach

The Samaritans Veterans App provides military service leavers with information on how to support themselves and how to reach out to their community anytime and anywhere. It’s a tool tailored not only to suit their own needs, but also provide helpful information for any family members or friends who want to learn more about the wellbeing of military leavers and support their loved ones.

A series of self-reflection activities at the beginning of the process identifies and suggests the best starting point in the tool for each user based on their answers and personal situation. A digital version of Samaritans’ emotional health scale allows users to indicate how they’re coping each time they open the app. This tracks whether they’re doing better, worse, or the same as the last time they completed the emotional health scale, and recommends that a user tracks their mood to help them identify patterns and potential causes.


A range of topics are divided into six units. The content within these allows the user to develop awareness and understanding of emotional health and wellbeing issues: what they are, how they come about, and how to spot them in their own behaviour. Five units cover typical areas where people struggle with their emotional health after leaving the Armed Forces, whilst the sixth provides an overview of mental and emotional health and wellbeing.

Saffron turned real life stories into a recommended podcast and video series where ex-military personnel share their experiences. Saffron and Samaritans worked together to create these podcasts specifically for this app. As well as providing a course map to each section of the app, the homepage also includes a dynamic ‘thought of the day’, giving the user bite-sized content to prompt positive action and reflection.


The Action Centre empowers the user to take steps towards improving their emotional health. The content includes simple wellbeing tips, breathing exercises, and methods for staying connected to help users identify and connect with loved ones. The action builder and planner allows users to create and control their own emotional health management plan.

Learning is more engaging and productive in a game-orientated environment. The Achievements feature motivates and rewards users for watching videos and podcasts, completing actions and exploring the themes. These small positive moments of celebration within the flow of learning help visualise progress, stimulates the competitive streak in the learner, and helps to embed positive behavioural changes.


In recognition of the significant achievements made by Saffron, Samaritans and MoD, the Veterans App was awarded Silver in the ‘Innovation in Learning’ category at the 2023 Learning Awards and was recognised for ‘Best Use of Mobile’ at the International eLearning Association’s annual showcase.

The feedback received was consistently positive, not just with regards to the technical aspects, content and design, but also the communication and understanding displayed throughout the process.


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