2020 has been a mentally challenging year. The millions of jobs lost due to the pandemic paired with many months of isolation have resulted in the worsening of an already dire mental health situation. According to the World Health Organization, "The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide."
With essential mental health services unavailable, many people have been left to find their own ways of coping with the losses of the pandemic. Many of these coping methods may be detrimental in the long term.
Because of this, we were inspired to create Beacon, a service designed to help people strengthen their mental health by promoting beneficial, creative activities. Beacon helps people develop meaningful and enjoyable hobbies, as studies have shown that spending time on creative hobbies during the day is associated with positive effects and psychological functioning.
In a post-covid world, mental health will be one of the first problems we need to tackle in order to successfully recover from the pandemic. We hope that Beacon will act as a guiding light to this rehabilitation.
What it does
Beacon is a website that allows a user to explore creative activities and reflect on how it affects their mood. The website will ask the user how they are feeling at the moment and ask them to start a short journal entry to explain their current mood. It then suggests different activities for the user to learn by directing them to a selection of helpful videos. Finally, a results page with the user's mood and journal entry will be displayed. The results page will also ask the user to reflect on how the video impacted their mood that day.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
One of the biggest challenges we ran into was the ambitiousness of our original ideas. We originally planned to create a platform for users to share specific activities, much like a social media app such as HelloTalk. However, we quickly realized that our current programming skills would make such an endeavour impossible to accomplish in such a short timeframe. Instead, we opted to create a service focused on the progress of an individual user rather than the interaction between many users.
We were also unable to properly utilize some of the features of the website such as username and password, as we did not have any means of storing this information.
In addition, the aspect ratio we used to code the website was only compatible with 1280x615 pixel screens, making it appear more pixelated on screens of other sizes. We were unable to adjust the website's size to fit different screen sizes.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As first-time hackathon participants, we're proud of how we were able to develop our ideas into a functional website. Although we may have deviated slightly from our original plans due to time constraints and lack of complex programming skills, we are proud that our website still fulfilled the spirit of our original idea.
What we learned
What's next for Beacon
In the future, we would like to create a Beacon mobile application in order to make it more user-friendly and to promote more user interaction within the app, similar to productivity apps found on the App Store and Google Play Store.
We would also like to offer a broader and randomized range of videos to the user. By doing this, the website can recommend a different set of videos every time it is refreshed.
In addition, we want to adjust the website to fit more aspect ratios so users with different computers will have the same experience.
Research: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2016.1257049?journalCode=rpos20 https://connecthealth.org.au/enews/pursuing-a-hobby-can-improve-your-mental-health/ https://www.psychreg.org/hobby-mental-health/ https://headtohealth.gov.au/meaningful-life/purposeful-activity/hobbies https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2863117/ https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/ta5463