Inspired by our love for houseplants and personal experiences with mental health, Growing Through It encompasses the healing properties we have found within our plant children. Our plants provide us with both physical and mental benefits; while beautifying and purifying the air in our spaces, taking care of them and catering to their basic needs has also proven to be a form of self care. Growing through it is a play on the phrase “going through it” which we and others use to describe a period of low mental health; How are you? Oh, it’s been tough lately, I'm going through it. This isn’t to minimize mental health, in fact it is obvious how mental health is becoming less stigmatized and more talked about with younger generations. But despite more conversation around the topic, not everyone has the privilege to access direct personalized mental health care. Our goals for our mental health app were the promotion of accessibility, community, and decriminalization of mental health crises.
Our app includes three main features, the first being the creation of a plan for times of mental hardship. The plan includes contact information for who we call a user’s “roots”, a trusted network of individuals who keep the user grounded, and a personalized message that can be sent out to let these specific people know about how the user is feeling and how they can better provide support. This is all done in anticipation so that when times of struggle occur, there is one less thing on their plate and focus can shift to other things. A second feature of our app is the self-expression and community aspect. Research has shown that journaling has mental health benefits, including helping individuals work through anxiety and stress, goal setting, and emotional intelligence (MHA). Growing Through It emphasizes this self expression through personal posts where users can create audio, visual, or written posts voicing their thoughts freely or in response to prompts. Posting is automatically private and archived but can be made public and posted anonymously to the community forum; this low-stakes posting is a way of forming connections, developing community, and creating a sense of belonging and support. It can be powerful to see that you are not alone in your feelings and experiences. The third main feature of our app is the resources section; our aim is to connect our users with trusted local resources in their area that specialize in mental health which they can reach out to in case of a more severe mental health crisis. This aspect was very important to us as we are vehemently against the criminalization of mental health crises; in times of crisis, law enforcement who are not trained to adequately and safely deescalate these situations are the ones left to respond to them leading to a policing of mental health instead of treatment. We have compiled a list with resources from every state including warmlines, walk-in treatment centers, and community clinics. What we present to you is the minimum viable product; if given more time and the ability to expand our work we would create a larger resource list, implement self care notifications, and add more interactive features- among many other things that our passion for this project allows.
Everyone in our team played an important role in the development of our project. Anakaren, a psychology graduate student, was the project manager. Aleyda and Michael were the fullstack developers which brought the vision to life in the MVP.Together, through challenges of learning typescript, react native, and gaining more experience with Sqlite3, Sequelize, and Express to build endpoints for our application to connect to the front end. We learned to use our different expertise to work together as a team from managing a project to explaining complicated technical processes to generate solutions for our application. This is a passion project that is a stepping stone for us to keep building our skills and attempt to provide an anonymous form of self expression about the importance Mental Health. Keep up to date with the progress of our project on GitHub.