As a team, we all sat in limbo as we witnessed how COVID-19 ravaged communities all around the world. Just like domino bricks, city after city, country after country, they fell to the virus. And along with it, people’s lives, jobs and overall livelihood were upended and many communities did not have the requisite resources to handle the aftermath. It almost seemed like a nightmare that did not have an ending. Beyond the direct impacts of the virus, the more sinister and unspoken consequence of this pandemic is the resulting mental health fallout, especially pronounced in the ASEAN region. We watched the endless news charade, a constant litany of negative news, increased suicide, unemployment, and alcoholism rates. They were all connected to a core tenant of human well-being that has been stigmatized and ignored for far too long, mental health. Increasingly, young adults and the youths of our region have been facing mental and emotional stresses that become precursors for life-long mental disorders and we decided that we were no longer going to be passersby in this crucial time where human ingenuity needs to come together and spark solutions to impact the lives of generations ahead.
What it does
When the user enters the app, they enter a space called the ‘Habitat’. The ‘Habitat’ is the main courtyard where Kura, the tortoise lives. The user will need to keep their Kura healthy, strong, and alive and can venture to different locations on a map to earn special rewards. Along the journey, the user will have to complete various challenges, quizzes and reflections centered on mindfulness techniques obtained by amygdala hijack releases in order to keep their Kura alive.
Kura kura has revolutionized what it means to reflect and how that process looks like. When the user wants to reflect, he has three different novel reflection methods. Firstly, the user will be prompted to reflect on the goals that he has already set, This will be done via the traditional method of personalized guided reflecting questions to help the user better understand their goals and to improve their steps.
Secondly, we have pioneered a way of making the reflection process more fun and engaging through word association. Gamifying and taking the user through word bubbles to better understand their current sentiments.
Lastly, we have integrated a decades-old reflection method that has yet to be digitalized for the 21st century, music therapy. Utilizing Spotify's API , we will retrieve the user’s most listened-to songs and get the user to reflect on the songs they resonate the most with. Music has the ability to evoke a wide range of positive emotions and provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Emotions that are felt when the user interacts with music are special. With these data points, we can achieve more accurate sentiment analysis and better-curated questions for goal setting and action plans
How we built it
We used Figma to design the screens and to plan the look of the application. The base of the entire intelligent journal will then be built with flutter. For offline storage of data, we will be using SQLite database. For data required online, we will be using AWS MySql database. AWS Cognito will be used for authentication purposes. In order to make the intelligent journal an interesting one, we will be using Rive app to create and build animations with flutter. With regards to our music reflection method, we will be linking Spotify's API to flutter so as to receive the users most listened to music. Sentiment analysis will be used throughout the app. The training of the model will be done using python and National Language Tool Kit (NLTK).
Challenges we ran into
The topic of one’s mental health in ASEAN is not spoken commonly. Stigma from the community and individuals run rampant in our region. This prevents many from seeking out treatment and counseling in the early stages of mental illness, Even when young adults and youths are facing mental and emotional stresses, they find it hard to look for help, lest they become ostracized. As such, Mental Health & Illness is not a topic discussed in many communities. The resulting lack of demand for treatment has also caused government spending for mental illness treatment to dwindle significantly. In the years that come, a huge gap for mental health support and mental illness treatment will be left in the wake. It is important to consider how Team Moments and Kura-kura reaches out to those in need of support as well as in how we design the whole platform to fit this reality.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Knowing the challenges that we face in ASEAN as well as the insights we gained from our User Testing, we are extremely proud of how we as a team have managed to pull through together. We have gone through multiple rounds of ideation, and iterations sometimes frantically as we have found similar ideas or had an “Aha!” moment. We have actually gained some recognition via JunctionX with an idea that we iterated away from because we saw a better way and that took courage. We have also been working remotely for the whole duration of the development using Discord, and Confluence to make sure everyone was on the same page.
What we learned
Since the start of the pandemic, we have sat on this problem and bounced ideas off each other through countless sessions remotely. In the past 3 months, we have gone through the process of testing and iterating with a small group of testers. After internalizing the insights and lessons we gathered, our idea was twice pivoted before reaching its current form of Kura-kura. To distill the lessons from these 3 months, the 3 key ideas are:
- Try to go for the lowest hanging fruit first
- Download and try out the existing competitors on the market
- Always keep the user and the user’s context in mind as the first priority.
What's next for Kura-kura
We plan on developing the application and sending it out for beta testing. Firstly, we aim to partner with existing mental health NGOs on the ground in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines to allow us to work closely with community health partners and connect with a larger user base. Secondly, we also will form partnerships with holistic employers looking to boost team morale, providing another pool of users that we can tap into. Mental health is of increasing importance to employers and we plan to have curated versions of our app for such stakeholders so that all communities can benefit. After this, we plan to link up with tertiary institutions and universities and provide Kura-kura as a companion on their learning journey. With these specially selected groups of users, we will be able to better refine our product for the market and allow all of ASEAN and beyond to achieve mental health ownership.