A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear, triggering severe physiological and psychological reactions such as shortness of breath and a loss of control of one’s thoughts. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, up to one third of adults may have a panic attack in any given year. As such, it can be very overwhelming to search for support resources or exercises when in this state of panic. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the prevalence of these mental health issues and has made it harder to access in-person support.
🙂 What grounded does
grounded is a simple, all-in-one web app that helps users stabilize their mental state by providing interactive grounding exercises based on panic attack first-aid, as well as easy access to a curated list of support lines and resources. Once you open the web app, you begin with guided breathing. Since the average panic attack peaks within 10 minutes, grounded will check in with you after 10 minutes of continuous guided breathing, and ask you to reflect on your emotional state. Based on your response, it then allows you to switch to another grounding activity, access helpful resources, or continue with guided breathing. In this way, grounded allows the user to control what works best to their needs, without overwhelming them with too many options.
🛠️ How we built it
☹️ Challenges we ran into
The most challenging aspect of our web app was its usability on various platforms. Our goal was to make the app usable on any web browser, allowing for ease of use and access to anyone in need, no matter their technological situation. Despite the countless hours that we spent testing through trial and error, it was extremely rewarding to see our goals being achieved. Additionally, a significant obstacle that we overcame was the implementation of our original user-interface and user-experience designs into functional code.
🏆 Accomplishments that we're proud of
While this was, first and foremost, an application development project, we are motivated and excited to have implemented a one-of-a-kind web application. Unfortunately, we believe that there are currently no similar resources that are as accessible and simple to use as grounded, and we are extremely proud to be working towards closing gaps in accessibility to mental health resources.
✏️ What we learned
Despite the challenge of implementing our designs, launching our final product was an extremely rewarding experience. Seeing our visions becoming reality motivated us to keep trying, even when certain aspects seemed too challenging to implement. Additionally, working towards a cause that we believe is paramount in our society allowed us to stay motivated throughout the planning and development of the application.
🧠 What's next for grounded
While there are grounding exercises that are proven to work, we would like to have the opportunity to work with healthcare professionals and trained therapists to develop more exercises that may help those struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. Creating more color modes, especially uplifting shades, to suit a user's preference is also at the top of our list and is something that we hope to implement in the near future. In addition to visual cues, we want to further improve accessibility by including audio cues, such as relaxing background sounds and narration for the guiding instructions. Finally, we would like to scale this web app to be an iOS and Android app, which would complete our goal of accessibility among all major platforms. Of course, once all this is complete, we will have come up with more ideas, so this will not be the end for grounded. All in all, we hope that you are just as excited as we are, to continue the development of this application that combines mental health awareness, accessibility and education into one space.