Co-Designing Technology-enabled Support for Unaccompanied Migrant Youth’s Social Ecology

Promoting Resilience in Unaccompanied Migrant Youth by Supporting their Supporters

This UX research study was conducted as part of my PhD research and a four-year Innovation Training Network (ITN) – Technology-Enabled Mental Health for Young People (TEAM) funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) initiative. This training network focuses on different challenges of technology-enabled mental health services for young people. My PhD research focused on vulnerable groups among young people, particularly migrant youth who arrive in the EU unaccompanied by a responsible adult or who are left unaccompanied after their arrival.
Due to the high number of refugees arriving in Vienna in 2015, the PhD project was located in Vienna, Austria.

High Need of Resilience Support in the Everyday Context of Unaccompanied Migrant Youth

Unaccompanied migrant youth are exposed to many mental health risks (Höhne, van der Meer, Kamp-Becker, & Christiansen, 2020; Hodes, Jagdev, Chandra, & Cunni, 2008), and even after arriving in the country of destination, they experience many stresses such as continued unstable educational and living situation (Hodes & Vostanis, 2019) and discrimination (Fazel & Betancourt, 2018). Unaccompanied migrant youth could benefit from developing strong psychological resilience to adapt to this adverse situation, which, in turn, could prevent the onset of mental illnesses (Zolkoski & Bullock, 2012).

Recent studies showed that social contacts and relationships play a key role in promoting resilience in UMY (Horlings & Hein, 2018; Rodriguez & Dobler, 2021; Scharpf, Kaltenbach, Nickerson, & Hecker, 2021). In the research field of Human-Computer-Interaction, there is an increasing interest in the potential role of technology in supporting informal caregivers (Ammari & Schoenebeck, 2015; Lederman et al., 2019; Yamashita, Kuzuoka, Hirata, & Kudo, 2013; Yamashita et al., 2018).

Thus, this UX research project explored the potential pathways and possibilities for technology-enabled resilience support as part of unaccompanied migrant youth’s everyday life and social-ecological context.

Aim: Exploring Potentials for Technology-Enabled Support

The following aims guide the UX research project:

  • Gaining an understanding of unaccompanied migrant youth’s everyday life and of their supporters‘ practices & challenges
  • Mapping out technological interventions points to enabled resilience support in the context of unaccompanied migrant youth
  • Exploring the design opportunities and requirements of technology-enabled support for supporting unaccompanied migrant youth through supporting their mentors

UX Research Methods

  • Semi-structured Interviews
  • Co-Design Workshop
  • Thematic Analysis
  • Mind Mapping Activities
  • Ideation Methods
  • Development of A Design Framework
  • Conceptualization of Design Examples


  • Dedoose - a Web-Based Application for Qualitative Analysis
  • MAXQDA - Software for Qualitative Analysis
  • XMind - Mind Mapping Software
  • InDesign
  • Photoshop
  • Premiere Pro