On March 19, a 23-year-old suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus died after he jumped off the seventh floor of a hospital in Delhi. Ruchita, a trauma therapist, said that the coronavirus lockdown can amplify symptoms of depression and anxiety. "It also increases risk factors," she said. "People who have to remain quarantined in toxic home environments might be experiencing trauma triggers as well." The existing cases have also been displaying signs of relapse for depression and experiencing heightened symptoms of anxiety. Over 90 million Indians, or 7.5 per cent of the country’s population of 1.3 billion, suffer from some form of mental disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The number is much larger at the global scale and is likely to increase due to social distancing.
What it does
Our mobile application called Asha, enables the users to seek mental help by chatting with clinical psychologists. It also calculates the user's mental health score(using DAPP and other scales) and once the user has used our application 4-5 times, it categorizes the user's issues and connects her/him with the psychologist that specializes in that area. Thus, it actually provides access to certified psychology practitioners at no cost in the basic plan. Th user can chat with the psychologist for free for 15 mins in the basic plan. In order to measure the impact, the user can rate how helpful a particular session was. This helps us to become better at serving the user and achieving the objective of empowering the user so that she/he can deal with her/his mental health. In the premium feature, the user can select the psychologists based on the rating and have text/voice/video call for a nominal fee.
How we built it
We built the app using flutter and the UI has been made using Adobe Illustrator. In addition to this, we have used an API to facilitate the chatting between the user and the psychologists.
Challenges we ran into
One of the important challenges that we ran into was reaching out to psychologists and identifying a mechanism to make sure that the user is mapped to the right psychologist based on the issues that the user is facing.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our team had been shortlisted to participate in the Johns Hopkins Challenge and we also secured the first prize in an competition organised by a university in Delhi. We secured the second prize in the mental health track Global Hack, a 48 hours global hackathon in which 15k participants had applied.
What we learned
This journey has been full of learning. We learnt about the wide areas of mental illness that exist and got to know that the rise in the number of mental health issues would be huge once the pandemic ends. People really want someone to talk to and vent out their emotions but the stigma around mental health makes them hesitant to visit a psychologist.
What's next for Asha
We have collaborated with a team at the Johns Hopkins University to add an additional feature on our application that uses gamification to help people comply with social distancing. Apart from this, we would soon be starting a social media page to spread positivity through thoughtfully created content. We have been brainstorming on different online campaigns which we could run to spread positivity.
To add value for the psychologists, we are also developing an algorithm that would automatically make notes about the user during the user's voice/video call with the psychologist. These notes would be available to the psychologist.
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