HeyPal! Did you know that according to The World Health Organisation, “One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives? Did you know that around 450 million people currently suffer from mental disorders, placing them among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide? Did you know that 66% of mental health issues point back to depression making it a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease?” The Mental Health movement affects us all, and we have all been through or recognise someone who has been through a time of hardship. Movements like “The Bell Let’s Talk Day” have helped raise awareness about mental health issues but unless we tackle this issue on a personal level, it will be nothing but another marketing campaign for big companies. We need to stand together, united to break the silence and end this stigma! We need to be there for one another on a personal level and look out for one another.
What it does
HeyPal is a natural language processing tool which analyzes social media posts using sentimental and emotional analysis in order to detect signs of depression. This tool was designed to provide analytics to social platforms in order to notify close friends, family and followers to check-up on the user. This gives users a way to put their hands together and take action other than just sharing a post about “Bell Let’s Talk” per say. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada: “Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in Canada. Among those aged 15 to 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death after car accidents. It’s estimated that 90% of people who die of suicide were experiencing a mental health problem or illness”. Often times, people who are suffering from depression feel isolated, trapped in loneliness, unable to express their pain, yet unable to escape from it, which often leads to thoughts of ending their pain by taking their own life. This is why it is very important for the first step towards recovery to come from an outer source. It’s great to say “Let’s Talk” but what if you are unable to? This is where HeyPal differentiates itself by giving users a way to contribute on a personal level in ending the stigma revolving mental health.
How we built it
HeyPal was built using the Google Cloud Natural Language API as well as our own AI emotional analysis algorithm based on research from experts such as Masters and PhD candidates in psychology. The scripts were written using Python and Firebase real-time database.
Challenges we ran into
Among a few roadblocks in the process, the biggest challenge we faced was not having access to a Twitter API key due to wait time for developer account approval. This set us back and forced us to web scrape the tweets using BeautifulSoup.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The team had various skill levels, but everyone contributed equally to the final solution. We're proud to have come as a team to accomplish the first steps of building this tool which solves a growing problem in today's society.
What we learned
The team learned how to work with the Google Cloud Natural Language API.
What's next for HeyPal
The HeyPal team will constantly be trying to tackle mental health awareness by including more components to analyze in a user’s social media profile. We hope to expand by using Facebook’s APIs and including automated messaging to close friends on social media to remind them to check up on their friends.