For years, Jason Finucan and Rylan McKinley helped corporate leaders improve their hiring, training, and management practices to foster a more supportive and stigma-free workplace for employees with mental illness. The growing demand among StigmaZero’s clients for a company-wide training program led them to partner with Pure & Applied. For 12 months, we rolled up our sleeves and put an extensive amount of care into researching and developing StigmaZero’s corporate eLearning program and business strategy to scale their impact.


Company in Spotlight


In collaboration with

5 Pound Media


Corporate training



Eradicating mental illness stigma in the workplace with eLearning

One of the greatest challenges faced by employees with mental illness is stigma in the workplace. It is not uncommon for an individual to be misjudged and misunderstood due to their illness, leading to intentional or unintentional discrimination, stereotyping, isolation, exclusion, and more. 

As someone with bipolar disorder, Jason Finucan experienced the harmful effects of stigma in the early days of his career. Alongside his co-founder Rylan McKinley, Jason wants to make workplaces more tolerant with StigmaZero.

“We need to prioritize education and training – not only for leaders, but for employees, too. Our greatest challenge and opportunity is in learning about what mental illness actually is, and how we can each learn to counteract the harmful effects of stigma on our society, workplaces and company bottom-line.”

For years, StigmaZero has helped corporate leaders improve their hiring, training, and management practices to foster a more just, supportive, and stigma-free workplace. They have also delivered moving keynotes and presentations across North America to raise awareness and motivate action on an individual level. 

Recently, they faced challenges related to offering scalable company-wide training solutions for medium- and large-size businesses. That’s where Pure & Applied and 5Pound Media came in.


Our Focus

Knowledge mapping + extensive research

Business strategy

Design of eLearning modules

Prototype + user testing + interviews

Instructional design + high-quality production

The outcome and impact of StigmaZero product



Mapping the science and the methodology

Knowledge mapping + extensive research

Creating an eLearning program starts with research. In this case, we dug into the most valuable aspects of StigmaZero’s methodology, the science behind mental health and stigma, and our learners’ profiles.   

There were 5 core questions worth our investigation: 

1. Why is stigma present in the workplace?

2. What false information do we learn about mental illness and stigma that’s worth debunking? 

3. What is it about StigmaZero’s process and methodology that enables behaviour change? 

4. How do we engage and enable adults to (re)learn key concepts in a meaningful way online? 

5. What kinds of content and activities would most effectively work in the limited amount of time an employee has for their own professional development during work hours? 

Methods used  •  surveying content  •  group facilitations  •  service blueprint  •  knowledge mapping  •  academic research  •  company brand discovery  •  interviewing potential learners  •  and surveying of existing programs and products.



Framing the product and the business case

Business strategy + design of eLearning modules

Researching the science that underpins stigma, while exploring our target users and their educational needs, paved the way for us to successfully define our learning objectives. We also created a holistic knowledge map that visually inventories StigmaZero’s knowledge, and can act as a framework for future product development. Finally, we created handy modules to clearly outline the scope of their eLearning product, coupled with an in-depth business case and buyer profiles for laser-focused content creation.

Nikitasha Kapoor Roxanne Desforges StigmaZero

Methods used
product observation and testing  •  EdTech sales insights  •  content strategy  •  content creation  •  positioning and feedback on marketing website  •  process design for marketing  •  marketing test campaigns and tools set up  •  coaching and facilitation



Testing to define business and product strategy

Prototype + user testing + interviews

Phase 3 was heavily focused on testing. The goal was to build a low-fi prototype and test our assumptions with three main user types: company employees, managers, and C-Suite executives. Within a week, we built a prototype, scheduled in-person user tests, and had users walk through a marketing website, one module of the course, and the course syllabus, providing feedback along the way. Our questioning was focused on the course content, the learning experience, and the learning methods we used within the course. Their feedback enabled us to focus our efforts on the highest-value content to promote learner engagement and productive outcomes. The user feedback also helped StigmaZero refine their business model and pricing.


Methods used
design sprint  •  instructional design  •  copy editing  •  lo-fi film production  •  video and sound editing  •  LMS integration  •  exploratory questioning  •  user testing  •  observation  •  participatory design  •  post-test iteration



Moving to high-quality production with 5Pound Media

Instructional design + high-quality production

Lights, camera, action: 5Pound Media was brought on to produce high-quality instructional videos, with Pure & Applied creating the guiding framework for eLearning video production. Our goal was for the videos to be engaging and optimized for retention. 5Pound Media managed the creative direction, design, and video production with multiple parties. This phase was a highly-collaborative and complex effort by all parties: Pure & Applied led the development of the video scripts and directed shoots with an eye towards tone, voice, and body language. Jason, who took on the role of course instructor, invited guests to share their stories and perspectives, which helped bring the content to life. To this day, each guest’s openness in front of the camera adds an important dose of authenticity to the StigmaZero eLearning program.

Video shoot with 5Pound Media

Methods used
eLearning video production guidelines •  visual brand identity  •  creative direction  •  instructional design  •  copy editing  •  script rehearsal  •  space design  •  video production  •  video and sound editing  •  illustration  •  LMS content integration and testing



The product launch and beyond

The outcome and impact of StigmaZero product

Drawing on extensive experience in B2B implementation and sales, Pure & Applied tied the project together with recommendations for the customer experience, technical integration workflows, and go-to-market strategy. We also reviewed all content in the learning management system to guarantee a high-caliber curriculum for learners. Finally, StigmaZero was able to stand on its own two feet, with a major urban hospital, construction company, and hotel chain among its inaugural implementations. This project, and the company’s mission, touched us on a profound level: the opportunity to help scale the impact of StigmaZero’s incredible sensitivity training, is one we will cherish forever.

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The feedback from our customers has been incredibly positive. Heads of HR reviewing it are giving it a big thumbs up – calling the program engaging and valuable.

– Jason Finucan, Founder of StigmaZero


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