The quarantine imposed by COVID-19 involves drastic changes in habits and puts people in isolation or forced coexistence. This is eroding the psychophysical balance. Psychic ailments and fluctuating moods affect all age groups, from kindergarten children to the elderly. I particular, we have to think to domestic violence and protect those that are forced to live 24/7 with their abuser. In addition, this health emergency created a second social group: those who continue their profession but in contexts of extreme psychological pressure (e.g. health professionals, supermarkets cashiers, prison guards). The circumstances in which these two categories experience the emergency are diametrically opposite (one group is forced to stay at home, the other group is forced to go to work), but both situations have a strong impact on mental health and well-being.
Thus, there is a clear need of involving mental health professionals as soon as possible. In Italy, few local initiatives are already in place but we need a nationwide action.
A solution can be a mobile application through which people can seek psychological support. This solution would be an “umbrella solution” that fills the gap currently existing in Italy. There are indeed several initiatives to support people wellbeing, but they are limited to a city or maximum to a region. We need a tool which can of course be adapted on other countries’ features (federal state or other forms of political conditions).
The main stakeholders would be psychologists that already passed the national qualifying examination and university students currently enrolled in a Bachelor or Master's course in Psychology. Indeed, the service would be free of charge for the user. Besides psychologically helping Italians and foreigners present in Italy, this system would allow psychologists to continue their professional training and to reach the number of ECM Credits expected per year / three-year period, and students to be able to carry out their internship, or part of it, with mentor supervision so as they can graduate.
Top App's features:
- Firstly, the app should ask from which region the request for help is coming;
- Secondly, the app should be divided in categories such as healthcare professional, cashier, prison guard, smart-worker, unemployed, elderly, student, etc
- Thirdly, the app should present other categories from which the person can choose: domestic violence, loneliness, anxiety, etc
- Psychologists interested in taking part in this programme would select the areas of interest/specialities
- Students should discuss with their mentors which areas they could be involved in line with their skills and knowledge
- People could select the category and area that best describe their situation.
- The first expert available would answer and would follow the patient as long as it is necessary.
It would be good if the app had an organisation based on regions and provinces to be sure that the entire country is making use of this service and that psychological support is offered from north to south. A good geographical coverage is important to avoid inequities and inequalities.
The App that we will use might be created with MIT App Inventor.