The purpose of Solace is to provide resources for college students to learn effective ways of coping with stress and anxiety during COVID-19. While many issues exist in the COVID-19 crisis, our team felt that mental health has not been brought to the forefront, despite the drastic impacts it has left on people’s everyday lives.
After our team researched extensively regarding the impact on mental health from COVID-19, we discovered common themes, such as depression, anxiety, and stress, among multiple audiences. For example, laid-off workers have reported an increase in depression and anxiety due to COVID-19 (Panchal et al.). Whereas, with healthcare workers, they have experienced stress due to worrying about infecting themselves and their families (Spoorthy et al.). We decided to focus on college students, a user group that we can personally relate to, because we faced difficulties recruiting participants who are out of our reach with the given time constraints.
What It Does
Based on a website, users will be able to access different sets of resources from their respective databases to learn how to manage their anxiety. We provide three different categories, which are “Mindfulness”, “Finances”, and “Staying Protected”. We chose these categories based on our research on what would be most helpful for our audience, college students. There is also a “Hobbies” tab where users can filter hobbies they are interested in, which will generate activities that users can do during the COVID-19 quarantine. By creating an account, they can bookmark resources to their account to refer to later. The website will also provide an interactive feature in the “Time Management” tab that allows users to create and save a daily clock routine.
Regarding how to navigate this website is straightforward. The user is able to access the key features by selecting the tabs at the top right. The home page lays the foundations of what Solace is, what it aims to accomplish, and why. Within each tab, the purpose and features are easily established without being overwhelming. The Resources tab contains 3 subsections, which can be accessed through the same mechanism as the tabs. In each subsection, the user is able to search related content to the topic, resulting in lists of articles that are related to their search keywords. In the Time Management tab, the user is able to establish a routine using a visual “planner” utilizing a clock. Creating a sense of normalcy and keeping a schedule during quarantine is one way to help manage anxiety and stress during this environment.
Moving forward, the final tab called Hobbies, allows users to convert their current hobbies to become quarantine-friendly or pick up new activities that are using their interests. Using the activities that the user has selected as their interests, the page then populates articles that fit the tags. The other way the user can search for hobbies is through the search bar for more specific results. Users have the option to save or bookmark their favorite articles to view later. Finally, users have the option to sign up or log in to access features such as saving routines and bookmarking articles.
How We Built It
We created a prototype of the website using Figma.
Challenges We Ran Into
Due to the time constraint, we were unable to implement a fully functioning MVP for our product, so we decided to create a prototype using Figma to show our concepts and ideas. In addition, we faced some difficulties in trying to produce a website that will solve our problem statement of “How might we support college students who are between 18 to 23 years old with their anxiety during COVID-19?”. Since there are a lot of resources available, we brainstormed ways as to how we can support college students effectively during the quarantine.
What We Learned
Through our research, we learned that COVID-19 has increased the anxiety levels of college students and the proper techniques on how to handle anxiety. In addition, our team discovered how to effectively analyze our audience by conducting a survey. By doing so, we were able to design a website that reflected the needs of our users.
Furthermore, we learned how to work together in a virtual environment using real-time collaboration tools, such as LucidChart, Google Docs, Figma, and Zoom.
What's Next for Solace
Due to the time constraint, we were unable to implement the following features: a personal account dashboard to view saved resources, a way to access bookmarked articles, and a way to access the saved routine clocks. We are planning to further develop the prototype into a working website.
Panchal, Nirmita et al. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use – Issue Brief – 9440.” KFF, 21 Apr. 2020, kff.org/report-section/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use-issue-brief/. Accessed on 15 June 2020.
Spoorthy, M. et al. “Mental health problems faced by healthcare workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic-A review.” PMC, 22 Apr. 2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7175897/. Accessed on 15 June 2020.