The idea for VenTalk originated from an everyday stressor that everyone on our team could relate to; commuting alone to and from class during the school year. After a stressful work or school day, we want to let out all our feelings and thoughts, but do not want to alarm or disturb our loved ones. Releasing built-up emotional tension is a highly effective form of self-care, but many people stay quiet as not to become a burden on those around them. Over time, this takes a toll on one’s well being, so we decided to tackle this issue in a creative yet simple way.
What it does
VenTalk allows users to either chat with another user or request urgent mental health assistance. Based on their choice, they input how they are feeling on a mental health scale, or some topics they want to discuss with their paired user. The app searches for keywords and similarities to match 2 users who are looking to have a similar conversation. VenTalk is completely anonymous and thus guilt-free, and chats are permanently deleted once both users have left the conversation. This allows users to get any stressors from their day off their chest and rejuvenate their bodies and minds, while still connecting with others.
How we built it
We began with building a framework in React Native and using Figma to design a clean, user-friendly app layout. After this, we wrote an algorithm that could detect common words from the user inputs, and finally pair up two users in the queue to start messaging. Then we integrated, tested, and refined how the app worked.
Challenges we ran into
One of the biggest challenges we faced was learning how to interact with APIs and cloud programs. We had a lot of issues getting a reliable response from the web API we wanted to use, and a lot of requests just returned CORS errors. After some determination and a lot of hard work we finally got the API working with Axios.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
In addition to the original plan for just messaging, we added a Helpful Hotline page with emergency mental health resources, in case a user is seeking professional help. We believe that since this app will be used when people are not in their best state of minds, it's a good idea to have some resources available to them.
What we learned
Something we got to learn more about was the impact of user interface on the mood of the user, and how different shades and colours are connotated with emotions. We also discovered that having team members from different schools and programs creates a unique, dynamic atmosphere and a great final result!
What's next for VenTalk
There are many potential next steps for VenTalk. We are going to continue developing the app, making it compatible with iOS, and maybe even a webapp version. We also want to add more personal features, such as a personal locker of stuff that makes you happy (such as a playlist, a subreddit or a netflix series).