We participated in the Mental Health Hackathon on Feb 3-4, 2018. The task was to build an application that enabled better mental health and created more awareness.
The mental health hackathon was conducted by California College of Integral Study. The event was aimed at bringing together professionals in mental health - such a counselors, therapists and technologists, to build applications that can support mental health better and also discuss important issues around the intersection of these two fields. Being someone who has had her challenges with mental health, I was eager to participate and contribute to helping people going through mental health problems.
Skills & Tools
Brain storming, User Interviews, Low fidelity wireframes, High fidelity wireframes, Prototyping, Usability Testing, Sketch
I worked on creating a guide and interviewing therapists/counselors present in the event. Once we identified key features we would like to include within our application, I worked on the repository of memories, emails and visual design.
Our research study compromised of four components:
We started out by interviewing therapists and counselors on site to understand the main problems they face while they help individuals cope with their mental health problems. Once we gained insights, we brainstormed around how solve those problems. Out of the brainstorming session emerged individuals features. Following this, we prototyped the key features on paper and got feedback. Based on the input, we modified the wireframes and created a high-fidelity prototype which was presented to the judges.
Research and Ideation
The experience at this particular hackathon was especially unique. The crowd consisted of behavioral therapists, psychologists and people who had their share of struggle with mental health. As we discussed about each of our mental health journeys, we were particularly drawn towards the idea of creating an application that will help de-stigmatize mental health and enable people to care of their mental health just as they do for their physical health.
As we discussed the ideas that would further help this cause, we realized we used a lot of apps such as the Apple Watch, Eve and more health apps that help us track how we were doing physically, but there was little done for the same in the mental health space.
Another pain point we had all experienced was the inability to recollect the exact details of the week when the therapist asks, “How was your week?”. The recollections are vague and details seem scarce. There could have been things one would have wanted to communicate their to therapist so they could discuss it further during their session.
To solve the above pain points we decided to build Aham*: a mental health journal.
*Aham means “I” in Sanskrit. In this context, we’d like for it to represent the inner process of healing within oneself.
Building the User Experience
Once we had listed down the key insights we got from interviews, we went on to ideate and brainstorm on how to possible features to implement from those insights. Following this, we created low fidelity wireframes and got feedback from the experts around us. After refining our prototypes, we got started on creating the visual design.
Users would be able to check-in with Aham whenever they felt the need to. After speaking with psychologists, we designed check-ins to consist of a limited number of questions that were easy to answer. As we designed check-ins, we tried different types of questions and different number of questions to find the sweet spot where overwhelmed users would be able to enter data and this would be sufficient to give their memory a nudge during therapy. Daily check-ins would also encourage a sense of commitment towards mental health, similar to how we care for our physical health.
Analyze your journey
Mental trends are difficult to recognize as each day spills into another. In this app, based on the inputs given during check-ins, Aham could help you see how you did over a week, month or year. Having a way to visualize how they are doing could help them reach out and ask for help when in need. It was also a method of communicating one’s mental journey to loved ones.
A box of good memories
Aham is also equipped with a repository of good memories that you can collect and go back to when you feel overwhelmed. This could be in the forms of playlists, pictures or even recordings of therapists.
Email update to therapist
Therapists would be able to get weekly updates on their patients before their appointment, so they could be more informed about their client’s journey.
Getting users to make using Aham a habit was one of the first challenges we faced. After discussions with behavioral therapists, we wanted to include an element difference every time the user logged in. We went ahead to include users favorite color and quotes, so they’d look forward to opening the application every time.
Learning to pitch your idea. This was one of the design hackathons we had been a part of and it took us a while to get around to know how to make our pitch. Practicing and repeatedly highlighting the benefits were traits that were often common amongst a lot of teams.
Rapid prototyping. Coming up with multiple prototypes and getting their feedback is far more useful than perfecting one prototype and getting feedback.
We received a lot of positive feedback from therapists about the app. They particularly found it useful that they could check-in and see how their patients were doing and also have a visual to see how they were doing over the week.