The video- based Hotline for instant mental support during COVID-19 came as a special response in times of special mental health challenges. During the Covid-19 pandemic several population groups are exposed to high mental distress due to uncertainty and fear on a daily basis.
All citizens may face uncertainty, helplessness, disruption of their normal routine, and social distancing. To a large extent, a big portion of society also faces financial insecurity due to loss of work or potential future financial damage. All the above, along with the fear of the disease itself can cause several symptoms like sleep disruption, anxiety, panic attacks or depression. Furthermore, the mental conditions prior to the crisis may deteriorate due to generalised uncertainty anxiety related to the current conditions. Many COVID-19 positive patients may face fear of multiple fronts; fear of infecting their family especially if some belong to high-risk groups, fear of permanent physical disability of some sort, fear of dying and anxiety of going through a possibly unknown struggle in isolation without being able to obtain adequate help. Another group at risk for developing mental conditions are family members or relatives of deceased. They experience a traumatic loss of an emotional bond, in most cases a very rapid one. The loss due to an agent that is widely unknown can also exacerbate all negative feelings due to the internal turmoil. They also cannot experience grief under the normal social connections or reach closure, which can help their grief since in many cases they cannot be present in funerals or relevant social proceedings. All the above may also amplify their sense of disconnection. Exhaustion from overworking and constant high pressure while on a process of constant decision making which give rise to moral dilemmas, based on largely unknown agent for the clinical settings increase the mental strain on healthcare and other frontline workers. Depending on the country and the particular touch-base their work in, the current situation may also lead to a mental breakdown. They may also face stigma of being carriers of the disease and isolation from their own familiar environment either due to protecting vulnerable members or simply due to workload. A patient will most probably already have a ‘foggy’ brain, reduced motivation and reduced cognitive processing. As a result, the effort and the particular tasks that would have to be put in action in order to track and connect with a therapist, is huge.
What it does:
mAIndcraft videobased hotline combined with a digital therapy program for mental health protection offers instant prfessional, confidential and secure mental health support. Our platform provides a low- barrier access to a therapist, easily reachable via desktop or mobile phone. In addition it offers free anonymous first professional evaluation, free matching with fitting follow-up if needed such as online psychotherapy combined with scientifically self-help training methods. An important factor is the use of the waiting queue which allows for optimal resource allocation compared to an appointment tool. The platform can be provided under licensing agreement deals to other countries for free during the crisis. It is easy to duplicate as white label solution, thus its content is easy to be translated in other languages and the internet address to be converted to the regional country code top-level There is already a license agreement with the Chamber of Psychologists with 500 members in Albania and a cooperation option to Greece and the UK. The technology used for the videoconference functionality is based on the protocol of WEBRTC for live audio/video/chat exchange to allow scalability.
How we built it:
The solution allows for a hotline platform, based on the concept of a digital queue, equipped with video, audio and text interaction with patients, and patient record system that is compliant with GDPR and IPS Certificate. In our platform, we have implemented a Backend infrastructure for the data and functions related to the videoconference session, as well as the data of the users and therapists. A web-based Dashboard is built for the therapists enabling login functions, digital conference room creation, initialization of videoconference session, rendering of the digital consultation room, patient profile creation, statistics and logs. Our platform relies on a newly constructed algorithm, which is applied to create the digital queue of users waiting for video consultation, matching to available therapists, and assignment of the respective digital consultation room. The platform is able to host 256 videoconference sessions (with 2 participants in each session) simultaneously with 1 dedicated server (without connectivity loss). We can add more dedicated servers to scale further, based on more incoming requests and users.
Challenges I ran into:
Develop the solution, organize the network of professsionals and a recruit a multidisciplinary team to work volunteerly within the time window of 3-4 weeks.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of:
mAIndcraft was awarded with the Impact Price at the Hacking Health Berlin- Hackathon on 13.4.2020 for the Hotline - solution and the unique value of AI- powered personalized treatments. We are proud to have formed an amazing team of healthcare professionals, computer scientists, mentors and advisors as well as fixed licence agreements and ongoing cooperations talks with German and international partners in such a short time window. Overall we are proud to offer an operational platform by on 27th of April 2020 to contibute to the solution of the mental health crisis due to COVID -19. .
What I learned
Act fast and trust your network
What's next for mAIndcraft video-based Hotline for mental health support:
Go public and reach as many people as possible