Vera is short for veracious, meaning truthful and honest. We believe everyone should feel safe to share their honest experience with the world. Our goal at SLO Hacks 2019 has been to develop a proof of concept for an anonymous social media platform that allows those struggling with mental health issues to be heard, be educated, and be supported.
According to Mental Health America, over 44 million adults have mental health disorders in the United States. Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are inherently detrimental to people’s well-being, life-styles, and ability to be productive in their work. Mental health is becoming a greater issue on college campuses, where students are feeling pressured to succeed in their studies and live up to the perceived expectations of their peers. A common phenomenon among people with mental health disorders is the feeling that they are alone or that they are the only ones experiencing their particular struggles. One of the most effective things that a someone can do to help a person struggling with their mental health is listen, understand, and make them feel validated for the things they are experiencing. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds. Many people do not feel comfortable sharing their experience with poor mental health because they are ashamed or embarrassed. On the other hand, when they are able to express their issues, it can be difficult for their friends to understand or express empathy.
Clearly there is a need for a stronger, more consistent support system for people struggling with mental health issues. Our idea is to create an app/website that allows people to anonymously share their experiences, read about what others are going through, and provide support to those that they can relate to within their community. People will have their own profiles where they can write posts describing experiences they’ve had involving their mental health, or just generally what it is like to be themselves. They can then tag these posts with relevant mental health words or issues. Each of these tags will have its own page containing all posts with the given tag. People will be able to search tags, read posts from people who have had relevant experiences, and provide support in the form of “I can relate,” “This helps me,” “You inspire me,” and “Thanks for sharing” buttons. The idea is to allow users to see that there are people within their community who understand what they are going through and that they are not as alone as they may seem. In addition to the “Tag Pages” there will be “Ed Pages” which provide information, statistics, and helpful links regarding specific mental illnesses. Finally, there will be pages describing how to be an ally to a friend, tips for improving your own mental health, and local and general resources for mental health support. Users will only be allowed to join communities that they actually belong to (such as universities) by using registering with their community email addresses (@calpoly.edu). While universities represent the prototypical communities for this platform, larger companies looking to support the mental health of their employees could also utilize this resource.