Winter is coming, and we're all stuck inside and feeling isolated. We're losing sun every day and it's getting colder and colder. Seasonal depression is among us, and due to COVID-19, it's been even harder for people to come together. With SAD Community, we want to create a virtual safe space where people can still be around others and feel seen. We hope that in the midst of what's happening to citizens in the U.S. socially, emotionally, mentally, physically, and politically, SAD Community can be a space where people can truly come together to find common ground and support and just be present with people going through the same issues.

Our team includes Shayla McJunkin, a psychology student, who expressed a passion for making safe spaces for students at Simmons. Hearing her story, Eva Lynch, a computer science major, has teamed up with her to make this dream come true.

What inspires us the most with this project is that we can create a place where everyone is equal, everyone is going through the same general things, and that everyone feels accepted, appreciated, and feels like even though a lot of us may have different backgrounds and specific issues going on in our lives, we can still find commonality within ourselves--even in these drastic times.

What It Does

With SAD Community, we want to provide people in the U.S. with resources so they can learn about how the changing seasons impact their mental health, learn how to get help through therapy, find informative resources that don't require having insurance--such as finding somewhere to get vitamin D supplements or a light therapy lamp--, receive weekly wellness tips and tricks, and provide forums where people can make their own support groups and talk with each other in a therapeutic way and have a sense of community without any financial restrictions.

How We Built It

Given the rapid pace required by this mini-hack, our top goal was to create a working prototype to act as our foundation for future iterations. With this in mind, we elected to focus our technical efforts on adapting a Wix website template to serve the needs of our projects.

Along with our Wix development, we researched and collected links and materials for our 'Resources' page of the website. We sourced from credible mental health institutions, educational institutions, and national help lines.

Challenges We Ran Into

The compromises required by operating on a strict deadline presented tough design choices. Ultimately we decided that we would focus on collecting mock data for our prototype's community members versus sinking time into recruiting sign-ups.

Accomplishments That We're Proud Of

We’re especially proud of the forum part of SAD Community. Creating this space where people can share their truth and their experiences with others who are going through the same thing can be a very therapeutic process and can really help bring unity in this time of chaos. In addition, we’re proud of the newsletter aspect and hope that as people sign up and make their own profiles, individuals will receive very insightful and helpful information on how to cope with seasonal depression and stress on a day-to-day basis through our weekly newsletter.

What We Learned

We’ve learned that although there are a lot of negative things going on currently in the world, if we just tackle some of these issues step-by-step and piece-by-piece, it can make all the difference. We’ve realized that by changing the lives of just a few and hopefully inspiring people to connect and support each other, this will be a great step in the direction of bringing people together as one and making the world a better place.

What's Next for SAD Community

Our next challenge for SAD Community is to use the interests that people have stated in their profiles to match them with community members of common interests and create a network of pen pals to send each other weekly encouragements. We also hope to provide monthly care packages for our members that will be filled with items such as SAD Community face masks, adult coloring books, stress balls, etc.

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