Mental health has been a hot topic on Penn's campus. The need for further developing a supportive community is being recognized by students and faculty alike. We hope that Hand in Hand will be a valuable and widely-used resource in this regard. Our target audience is university students looking to expand their support network.
Hand in Hand is a valuable resource for all students, whether they have depression and want to talk to someone going through something similar, they have a family member with an addiction and they want to learn more about the condition, or they just want someone to talk to. Hand in Hand's goal is to match users based on their preferred topic of conversation/desired support.
For now, since we don't have a large pool of users yet, we will match users randomly. In the future, when our user network expands, we will also add an email feature that will create closed communities within each university's domain, so a user will only be matched with other students on his or her college campus. Once matched, users can text each other and still remain anonymous through the static intermediary phone number linked to our website. Users can be rematched or change their preferences at any time. We will also have a report system that can suspend or ban certain phone numbers, in order to prevent spamming, catfishing, etc. Our site is geared towards users visiting from mobile web browsers.
We are most proud of our anonymity feature. It allows intuitive and comprehensible mobile access for our users, and prioritizes one of the biggest needs of our target audience: easy anonymous conversation. We hope that this will allow for candid discussion about mental health to become more widely accepted.
Mental health awareness is a topic that we are very passionate about, and we plan to continue expanding Hand in Hand and marketing it to university students. Our plan is to enable every user to create an account with their school email, which would allow us to match students within a university. We would also then be able to update the Resources page so that it is specific to the user's university (currently, it is only applicable to the University of Pennsylvania). Another goal of ours is to expand the list of categories of mental health issues to include several other topics such as gender identity, verbal/physical abuse, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The user would be able to select up to three different topics, and they will be matched with other users via an algorithm that computes the compatibility between users rather than random matching.