You've likely seen a number of apps and websites created recently to help combat the disastrous impacts of COVID-19. However, the majority of these programs have one flaw in common: they overlook the unfolding mental health crisis this pandemic is creating worldwide. In particular, the suffering of one group is often ignored: healthcare workers. Mental health care is already highly-stigmatized, but for this career, where stoicism is praised, it can be extremely hard for sufferers to reach out for and receive the help they need. This is especially concerning given that due to the taxing nature of their jobs, healthcare workers have historically had higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population.
Let's take a closer look at the numbers. A study out of China at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak there found that a shocking 72% of healthcare workers reported being distressed, 45% were experiencing anxiety, and 34% were experiencing insomnia. COVID-19 is leaving such a substantial psychological toll on this population for many reasons. For one, doctors and nurses are working in a stressful hospital environment for such a long period of time, putting them at risk of burnout. They must also fear getting the virus, especially since many of them lack proper PPE. They are dealing with the grief of watching constant patient death and being isolated from their families.
Why is this such a pressing issue? Simple. Beyond the idea that everyone has the fundamental right to quality mental health care, we already don't have enough healthcare workers. If poor mental health deems these heroes unable to continue working, our healthcare system is at risk of collapse, endangering the lives of the thousands of patients that are testing positive for COVID-19 every day. If everyday people can no longer work due to sickness, our already damaged economy will take a further hit. We need our healthcare workers to feel adequately supported psychologically so they can continue saving our lives.
What it does
What's the solution, you ask? Introducing PsychBase.doc, the revolutionary new platform for healthcare workers to find and share helpful mental health resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. An anonymous, open-access database with a built-in email service, PsychBase.doc helps our #HealthcareHeroes obtain the support and psychological tools they need to remain happy and productive. It is divided into six categories, based on the most common stressors: Dealing With Burnout, Dealing With Grief, Fear of Contracting COVID-19, Stress & Shortages of PPE, Dealing with Pre-Existing Mental Health Conditions, and Misc.
_ The Process _
- On the home page, click on the "Get Advice from the Medical Community" link.
- You will be prompted to a page to enter your email address.
- Check your inbox for a complete list of all the resources under that category!
- If you wish to add a resource, visit "Contribute to the Database!"
- You'll be prompted to a page where you can title the resource and select its type. This resource will then be added to our MySQL database.
Other features (in the works):
- Select a tag (anxiety, depression, positivity, death, de-stress, suicide, support, how to cope) from the rectangle at the bottom of the page to search by tag. You'll receive an email with all the resources under that tag.
- Select a resource type (articles, website, therapy/crisis prevention services, videos, forums, apps) from the second rectangle at the bottom of the page to search by type. You'll receive an email with all the resources under that type.
_ The Benefits _
- Easy navigation process
- Research-backed category organization for site layout allows users to quickly find help for the specific issue affecting them
- 100% anonymous to fight the heavy mental health stigma that healthcare workers experience
- Self-guided to empower users (based on studies that have shown that doctors prefer to confide in each other as opposed to reaching out for traditional help); made by healthcare workers, for healthcare workers
- Expedites the resource-search process
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
- We experienced frustration with connecting our front-end and back-end programs, but our patience brought us through.
- We initially struggled to devise a website layout and pick a color scheme that worked; we eventually did more research to choose colors that were relaxing and a layout that was simple and not overwhelming.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud of identifying a need in our community that often goes overlooked, and then coming up with the idea for a database that is backed by scientific research. We built a website from scratch and connected it with HTML, PHP, and SQL programs to create a working platform, which was very exciting. We came together, all from different time zones, to create something that we hope will truly be of use for our #HealthCareHeroes.
What we learned
What's next for PsychBase.doc
To further improve PsychBase.doc, we are working on convenience for the website. While we originally settled for emails to make the platform more intimate and anonymous, we want to expand so that users can simply click on a category and view the resources directly on the website. We also want to make the email feature more like a newsletter, where users can enter their emails once and automatically be sent out the most relevant resources every week. To further improve ease-of-use, we'd like to actually implement the search bar feature, as well as the search by tag and search by resource type algorithms. Additionally, we want to improve the website UI/UX to make it even more visually appealing and relaxing for users. In terms of content, we'd like to partner with large mental health nonprofits, like NAMI, as well as organizations that represent healthcare workers and governments. This will ensure that we can curate and display the most meaningful, helpful resources on our site. Lastly, for security purposes, we'd like to create a short authentication method to make sure malicious users don't take advantage of the site.