1 out of 5 Americans will experience mental illness in a given year. Despite this, it is extremely difficult to get mental health treatment in America. Mental health is not prioritized, even though it can have significant and widespread effects on an individual’s overall health and well-being. In fact, directories of mental health professionals that health insurance companies provide to their patients are often inaccurate and out of date, creating an even more difficult process for individuals attempting to be get treatment. In addition, some mental health professionals only take certain types of insurance, while others do not take any insurance at all. Overall, what should be a simple process of finding mental health treatment, but instead is often a convoluted and frustrating ordeal, can take a large toll on an individual’s wellbeing and even worsen their mental health in the process. That is why it is extremely important for there to be an accurate, up to date database of information that not only helps connect individuals with mental health concerns to qualified professionals, but also makes the process of finding mental health treatment as simple as possible. This is why we designed a website that allows users to specify their preferences for a psychologist, such as gender, location and types of specialties, and based on these preferences quickly matches users with compatible professionals. Most importantly, we are ensuring that our database of high quality psychologists and psychiatrists are as accurate as possible to further ensure the efficiency of the process in finding a qualified and compatible mental health professional for our users’ needs.
What it does
Given our situation of mental health epidemic on our society, we wanted to treat mental illness the same that we would a physical illness -- seek professional help. Our goal was to make a mobile App that matches you with a psychiatrist even when given difficult circumstances. They would be in your area, match your preferences so you would be completely comfortable with them, even with the worst social anxieties, and most importantly accept your health insurance as some practices can charge up to $300 / hour.
How I built it
We all had no prior CS knowledge except a second year CS major but we're interested in tech careers; we had Candice and Michelle focusing on UI / UX design, Eric working on front-end, and Jimmy building the backend. We initially wanted to build a Mobile App for the front end with React Native and a block chain for the back end with BlockStack because the documentation said these were very high level frameworks that only required a few hours. We believed that the decentralized block chain would be able to keep trust and update the list of available psychiatrists and the mobile app would be easier and more accessible to get help than a computer would. After about half of our time, we scrapped the plans and made a web app with React.js, and used FireStore for our database with we would use to match you with a professional.
Our idea was to Sign in -> Get asked a series of questions / Fill out your profile -> We use an algorithm to match you with some psychiatrist that you would like -> then you search through a list and maybe even message them directly if the platform would interest enough patients and doctors.
Challenges I ran into
Aside from technical problems, we were also facing a potential info security risk of HIPAA/PHI if we were to share potentially sensitive information such as insurance.
We were unable to get the matching algorithm in time, there was outdated documentation, and overall many beginner hiccups such as problems setting up an IDE.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We only had 1 second year CS major but still managed to connect a full-stack project, learn new frameworks, explore our interest in UI / UX design, and are now much more aware of a crisis that may be affecting our loved ones.
What I learned
We had a ton of fun and learned a lot during this Hackathon. Even though we had no prior knowledge, it felt like we were a decent functioning team of engineers. We learned that a tech career may not be so far off of our skillset and will definitely be an option for the future.
What's next for Mental Health Connect (MHConnect)
We only have the front end and back end connected, while also still having some unused wireframe and React Native software. We are planning to implement the matching algorithm bet and some front end attention and then we will have an MVP!
https://www.statnews.com/2019/06/17/ghost-networks-psychiatrists-hinder-patient-care/ https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers https://time.com/5550803/depression-suicide-rates-youth/ https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml