According to the National Institute for Mental Health, a report done in late June 2020 showed that 31% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, 13% reported having started or experienced an increase of substance usage, 26% reported stress-related symptoms and 11% reported having earnest thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days.
This shows a clear need to distribute information about mental health in a simple, personable, and easily accesible manner. By creating a product that focuses on mental health awareness and resource access, Inner Space ensures that people experiencing symptoms of mental health illnesses, or those proactively facilitating positive communication on mental health in their communicaties, have a clear, concise and conversational resource to go to.
What it does
This web application focuses on support for mental health and provides information on disorders, symptoms and possible treatments, utilizing a chat bot to easily communicate information in a safe and educational environment.
How we built it
There are two main components to this project: The web page and the conversational chatbot.
The web page was created using Qoom, and written in HTML and CSS. In accordance with the "Best Practices for UI/UX" etablished by Usability.gov, the leading resource for UX best practices and guidelines in government and private sector, the web site focused on simplicity, clarity, accessibility, consistency of UI elements and purposeful page layout. I used contrasting colours to seperate different key concepts and features such as "hover to zoom" on information-dense images to direct attention to the most relevant information to the user as they navigated the page. Furthermore, I included links that would provide relevant locations where the user could access resources like counselling and therapy.
The conversational chatbot was created using Google Cloud APIs and Services, namely Dialogflow, Cloud Natural Language API, Google Cloud Storage, and Google Cloud Datastore. Dialogflow was used to create the conversational chatbot by analyzing user text to understand intent, sentiment and discussion, and providing an informative response. The Natural Language API was used to extract information and concepts of mental well-being from reputable documents to provide context for the chatbot. Cloud Storage and Datastore were used to store the notebooks needed to extract information, generate the topics for the chatbot, and host it to be accessed online.
Challenges we ran into
Learning how to use the Google Cloud services and API. Additionally, when doing demos I would input specific words with the intention of using keywords that I know would get a specific response but would get incorrect feedback.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Although I have some programming skills I definitely pushed myself for this DefHacks 3.0 Hackathon. I entered it alone with the goal of pushing myself to mostly improve my front-end developing and during the process starting learning how the back-end is implemented.
What we learned
How to follow tutorials and ask questions from more experienced developers.
What's next for INNER SPACE
There are 2 main ideas to further the effectiveness of this web application. The first is to expand the resources so it is applicable to people living outside the United States. This would mean getting resources from other countries such that the resources would be updated to that country's needs. Secondly, the idea would be have more resources so people can get assistance and/or learn about more mental illnesses. Currently the resources on the web application is focused on the three biggest identified mental illnesses in the United States.