Mental health is a rising issue in Europe. This has only gained importance during the pandemic because of the strict quarantines. One on one- and group therapy is mostly not possible anymore.
Especially facilities for child and youth services now struggle with maintaing contact and therapy. There is a lot of different software for managing said facilities. Software which mostly deals with cost reduction / optimization and staff management. We could not find a solution that properly integrates the actualy therapy workflow, no solution connecting humans with humans. We decided to focus on the client-therapist interaction.
What it does
Commissura helps children and young adults, aswell as therapists, by gamifying routines and assignments discussed in therapy. This way, progress does not get lost and is always visible. In this scenario, the therapist acts as a "game master" who sets challenges, single task and routines. Several studies have shown that the positive reinforcement induced by gamification aids in therapy, improves engagement rates and reduces relapses. We want to unleash the potential of gamification in mental health programs with Commissura.
This is not a one way approach though. The data gathered via our app can be used by the therapist to further evaluate and monitor the patients progress. Shifts in mood or alarming behaviour can thus be anticipated. Anonymized data could be used in research to further the progress in the field of psychology.
And, most importantly, therapists and client are provided with a standardized, secure communication tool and therapy augmentation to keep in touch where physical contact is scarce.
How we built it
We are using the MERN (MongoDB, Express, React, NodeJS) stack for prototyping a web application of the project. After tests and validation we will add an iOS and Android compatible native app using Flutter, in order to work with one codebase for both platforms. This way, no matter the platform, you can keep progressing.
Challenges we ran into
When we first dived into the field, our focus was solely on communication. However, we found that there are several solutions video communication therapy already available on the market. However, after narrowing our target group to young adults, we found that there are no adequate solutions for patient-therapists interaction. Condensing our concept took a while, because we wanted to bring something new to the table instead of reiterating current approaches.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
In a matter of a few weeks we assembled an interdisciplinary team with the skills and dedication to make this happen. We intensified our research in the field of mental health gamification, got a cooperationg with a facility for child and youth services who will pilot test our product, and we got a lot of data documenting internal processes and therapy pathways for us to gamify.
We engaged in the #WirVsVirus hackathon by the german government, and got selected as one of the most promising projects out of more than 1500 applications. We are actively growing our network to increase our momentum even more. So we can deploy our solution better, faster.
What we learned
We learned quite a bit about the therapy process. While talking with specialists, we got a clear picture about this complex area. Through our cooperation with a child and youth services facility we gained insight into daily routines, rules, tasks and therapy pathways. We analyzed the needs and technical blindspots. This helped us in further condensing our concept.
What's next for Commissura
We would love to commit a lot of time to this project, hence we are actively looking out for funding in order to make room for what we consider important. We are in preparation of pitching our project to several health insurance companies, child and youth services aswell as individual psychologists to further cooperation.