“We can’t heal what we don’t have an awareness of.” Dr. Sonya Lott, CGT

Our New Reality

On March 24th, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a three-week stay-at-home order for it’s 1.3 billion residents. In Spain, all 46.6 million residents are on national lockdown for two weeks as of March 28th. In the US, 27 states will have stay-at-home orders issued by March 30, affecting 225 million people - more than ⅔ of the population - for at least two weeks. Countries around the world are closing borders and enforcing strict social distancing. COVID-19 has thrust billions of people into a new normal of staying at home with little to no social interaction.

The Effects

This experience will create a global mental health crisis as we struggle to deal with shared loneliness, fear, anger, and boredom. Anxiety and depression will worsen, the desire to use drugs and alcohol will increase, and millions of people will experience a form of PTSD.

The Hope

We don’t have to face this pandemic empty-handed. Studies show that mHealth interventions – that is, using wireless technologies to provide behavioral support – lead to better adherence to sobriety programs when participants are actively engaged by apps on their phones. Tracking one’s behavior and associating it with one’s mood helps people identify healthy patterns and stick to them. And the effect is cumulative. The longer one engages with an app, the more likely they are to adhere to their program.

We already have the tools to cope with this new, scary reality. With distince, you can put those tools to use.

What is distince?

The idea behind distince is simple: users can track the activities and emotions they experience every day they practice social distancing. Over time, this data can be used to identify relationships between certain activities and certain moods, allowing people to make healthier choices and help them better handle and adhere to social distancing orders.

How distince works

Using distince is quick and easy. The intuitive user-flow prompts people to note whether they adhered to social distancing, log what activities they took part in, how they felt, and then make note of anything else that stood out about the day.

Once they’ve completed the three prompts, users are sent to the Summary screen to view their aggregated data: how long they’ve been social distancing, the days they tracked, and details about their activities and emotions for each day.

Finally, users can visit the Chart screen to see their data visualized. Over time, this chart will show relationships between activities and the emotions they result in.

Technology We Used

Google Flutter, Google Firebase, and Amazon Web Services

Challenges we ran into

None of the team had used Flutter or programmed in Dart before, so this was a great learning opportunity. We were also all scattered across North and South America, so coordinating working times and communication was difficult.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our working MVP stayed true to the original vision and is a solid platform on which to grow and add new features. We did a lot of research into sobriety apps and other mHealth apps that encourage adherent behavior, and we think distince can be one that does a lot of good for a lot of people.

What's next for distince

The distince MVP focused on activity and emotion tracking as well as basic data visualization. Future distince releases will include: Interactive data visualizations, including day-specific charts and relational interactivity. Community forum where users can share their experiences with social distancing and encourage others to continue adherence. Resource library* where users can find mental and physical health professionals, tools, and publications. **In-app encouragement including tips from health professionals.

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