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Hackathon #3

Young Champion Pavan gives us the rundown on Hackathon #3 and how technology can be used to reduce stigma around mental health and educate young people about it.

As a member of the Young Persons Forum at Great Ormond Street Hospital, I first heard about the Hackathon in our newsletter and as soon as I inquired more about this opportunity, I knew that I had to get involved.

The Hackathon was a two day course that collated young people’s opinions on how this could help reduce stigma around mental health and how to educate young people about it. I thought that this was a brilliant basis for the app.  

It is innovative to combine helping people with digital apps. Phones are used so often now, so to be able to use this to help people with mental health issues is amazing. Being a young person and having experienced mental health problems myself I know that when it comes to mental health it is often hard to find the right person to talk to.

We started by talking in our groups about what we thought stigma and empathy meant. We then discussed how we could reduce stigma around mental health and how to build up people’s empathy towards it. After this exercise, each group had to create an imaginary person and make an online profile for them. Then using the app, we had to explore how it was going to offer support to this person. Unfortunately, we got as far as creating a profile before it was time to leave. The first session had flown by so fast as we all had so much to contribute.

The next day we were given back the profiles we had made and their problem. From this we started talking in depth about how the app could help them and what we wanted from the app. Following on from lots and lots of discussion we finally came up with the main basis for our app. We wanted our app to talk to us and be there for us. We thought that this would be a good idea because when you open up to someone about you mental health problem, there is always a fear that they will tell someone else, who’ll tell someone else and so on.  This way you could tell the app anything and feel as though it was a safe space. 

From this we decided that a good way to do this was by making the app to be a bit like a diary, and the app encouraged you to write a diary entry every day. After writing the diary the app would then look over the entry to see how it could help and then give you little things you could do to feel better.  If the app thought that you felt especially sad it would ask for your permission to put you forward to a counsellor, so you could talk to them.   

We then had to design on pen and paper what we wanted the different screens to look like. I found this aspect particularly appealing because I love to design things whether it’s clothes or apps.

Finally we had to feedback our findings to the class. It was moving to see so many young people passionate and comfortable to talk about mental health, whether it was about educating other young people on mental health or helping people that have issues with it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and I know that this is the first of many experiences I will have with the Anna Freud Centre.