Expressly is a mobile application designed to be a safe space to empower adult African-American males with tools to navigate, process, and express their emotions more effectively.


Problem Statement  

African-American men struggle with emotional processing and communication due to societal stereotypes and childhood conditioning. Providing them with tools and resources to understand and express their emotions can empower them to navigate emotional challenges, fostering a greater sense of being seen, heard, and understood.

Problem Background  

For as long as humans have existed, they have had an innate desire to feel seen, heard, and understood, fulfilling essential physiological and emotional needs. These three key feelings establish meaningful connections that are vital for human well-being and survival by providing validation, belonging, and support. Being seen reinforces a person's sense of identity and self-worth. Feeling understood promotes open emotional expression, better communication, and healthier emotional regulation. Feeling heard facilitates receiving feedback, support, and perspectives from others, which contributes to personal growth and self-improvement. Together, these feelings foster trust and intimacy in relationships.

However, African-American men often struggle to consistently feel these emotions due to unique challenges stemming from societal stereotypes and childhood conditioning around male emotional expression. Racial bias and discrimination can exacerbate these challenges, creating additional barriers to emotional well-being. These experiences often result in African-American men feeling pressure to suppress their emotions or conform to cultural expectations of emotional restraint, limiting their ability to fully engage in emotional expression and support. Understanding these specific challenges is crucial to developing effective tools and resources to help African-American men achieve greater emotional health and resilience.

According to a study by Hammond WP, emotional suppression among African-American men is directly linked to increased rates of depressive symptoms and anxiety. This suppression is also associated with physical health issues such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and can hinder the development of close, supportive relationships, leading to isolation. Additionally, African-American males who suppress emotions may be less likely to seek help for mental health concerns due to stigma and cultural norms around vulnerability. In extreme cases, emotional suppression can ultimately lead to suicide.

The primary target audience consists of African-American males ages 19-30 who have navigated the challenges of emotional development during their formative years, ages 5-17. These individuals often face societal pressures around emotional expression and could benefit from resources to help them understand and articulate their emotions effectively.

Research Insights

I conducted a survey of 25 users and conducted three interviews, 

Upon reviewing the research, I identified the primary pain points our audience often experiences while trying to navigate emotional expression as adults. These pain points include a lack of emotional literacy, difficulty expressing emotions in personal and professional relationships, and difficulty managing their emotions.

87% of research participants reported that societal stereotypes about male emotional expression during childhood impacted their ability to express emotions as adults, while 84% said societal and cultural pressures caused them to suppress emotions. Furthermore, 76% identified their biggest challenge in expressing themselves as being misunderstood or having their emotions dismissed by others.

70% reported their mother being the person they feel least comfortable expressing themselves with, while 70% also reported sadness as the emotion they feel least comfortable expressing, Additionally, 54% reported experiencing physical discomfort when emotions are not expressed. This underscores the importance of having healthy emotional outlets.


Upon reviewing the user research, I found that respondents often face inner conflict due to societal norms around emotional expression and their desire to express themselves authentically. There is a strong desire for emotional validation and support, particularly from family and peers. Additionally, experiences of emotional suppression have long-term impacts on individuals' ability to navigate their emotions and form intimate connections.

Landing on the Solution

Based upon the research from the target users, the goal of this product is to provide educational content such as articles, videos, and guides on understanding and managing emotions. We aim to incorporate interactive tools with exercises and prompts to practice emotional expression and communication. Additionally, I will offer tracking features to log and analyze emotional responses and processing times. 

I hypothesize that by implementing these solutions, users will experience improved emotional literacy, increased comfort in expressing emotions, and a stronger sense of community support, ultimately reducing the time it takes them to process their emotions and enhancing their overall emotional well-being.

Explanation of Solution

Expressly is a mobile application designed to be a safe space to empower African-American men with tools to navigate, process, and express their emotions more effectively. The app offers resources and guidance to help users understand their feelings and communicate them in healthy, constructive ways. With Expressly, they can understand and articulate your feelings, ultimately fostering greater self-awareness, confidence, and resilience in emotional expression.

The  main features that will be prioritized in the Expressly MVP are:

  • Strategies for managing and expressing emotions
  • Techniques for effective communication
  • Tools to track and understand emotional triggers and patterns
  • Resources to reduce the time it takes to process emotions




Future Steps

After assessing the success of the Expressly MVP I plan to create a space for community engagement, releasing future features that offer opportunities for users to receive constructive feedback on their emotional expression from trusted peers or mentors. In addition, they will be  provided access to emotional coaches who can help users navigate specific challenges in expressing emotions. There will be a space to facilitate forums and discussion groups where users can share their experiences and learn from others' emotional journeys, providing them access to professionals or experts who can offer guidance and answer questions about emotional literacy. These new features will give users access to a supportive community of like-minded individuals for sharing experiences and advice.


Product Manager Learnings:

Abdul-Quayyum Almaroof

As a product manager I learned the importance of not rushing to solutioning but spending more time defining the problem and conducting user research to truly understand the paint points of your target audience I learned the value of user research in uncovering your users pain points and underlying motivations and the pros and cons of the various methods available for conducting research. I learned the importance of delivering continuous and consistent value. You don’t have to deliver a million dollar product on the first go around but instead you build incrementally, consistently getting feedback and delivering continuous value to your customer.

Designer Learnings:

Developer Learnings:

Developers Learnings:


Full Team Learning