Hi, my name is Megan Archer. In late 2009, my sister was sexually assaulted on the campus of UT Austin. Overwhelmed in the aftermath, she withdrew from classes to recover at our family home in Fort Worth. Afterward, she planned to return to school, where she was a promising student in the art department. Nine years later, my sister is still living at home - a variety of mental health issues resulting in her fear of leaving our parents' home. On the afternoon of April 18, 2018 my sister left our parents’ home north of Fort Worth, Texas, walked 3 miles to a busy highway overpass, and stepped off the bridge into rush hour traffic. After nine years of trying to find resources and support to accommodate my sister's growing mental health issues, it is absurd that the only solution that she felt comfortable with was death.
In a society where [1 in 5] https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers Americans struggle with a mental illness, and 9 in 10 Americans have access to the internet, more Americans are using the internet as a 1st stop to resolving mental health-related problems. However, although there resources out there, it can be hard to locate them - especially if you are struggling with your mental health. We hope to eliminate the black hole of google searching for mental health resources by creating a mental health directory that will foster an online community of care and promote the de-stigmatization of mental health resources and needs. Inevitably, this site will be able to create a human-focused site that is accessible to all.
What It Does
Imagine you are asking yourself one, or all, of these questions: How do I locate a therapist who takes my insurance, in my area, who is LBGTQ friendly? I’ve been feeling sad a lot lately- but am I depressed? I’d like to find a support group in my area - preferably one that meets on my free weeknights.
Or, maybe you don’t know what is wrong - but you’d like some help.
Alignment, an online mental health directory, will connect Austinites to mental health resources near them.
A google search can pull you in a million different directions. Most sites are overwhelming, crammed to capacity with information but no context. Designed by therapists for therapists. The likely outcome - shut down or self-medicate.
In a people-centered business we should be taking a people-centered approach. Because, realistically, the conversation begins before you ever set foot inside a therapist office. A simple question - What do you need help with? Iconed options are laid out on a single page. No scrolling No typing. Choose the one you most identify with. Or perhaps you don’t know yet. That’s OK. On this website, tell us what KIND of resources you are interested in. The short description below provides more info for those who might be unfamiliar with any of the terms.
Finally, some results!
But wait there’s more - users can further narrow their search. In our search for therapists we can limit by gender of therapist, online vs. in-person, youth therapy vs. adult.
Everybody needs help sometime. Alignment gets you there easily, quickly, and kindly.
Alignment “Aligning your mental health with the resources you need”
How We Built It
We are a team of seven - three engineers, two designers, and two product managers. We came in with just an idea for a Directory to provide Mental Health Resources - no predesigned app, website, or even a name. This project is start to finish a product of this ATX Hack for Change.
Challenges I ran into
Realistically, we are not capable of knowing what each Austinite may need from this directory. This is why Hack 4 Change has been so important. Getting feedback from individuals, parents, siblings, and friends who have had to struggle with researching and locating mental health information online has been critical. It has been a challenge to make a first draft that shows we are primarily trying to make the resources accessible and human-focused for every single individual. This has been everything from the design features and language that will create a positive, supportive and compassionate user experience to creating code that will filter results to best cater to the needs of an individual who is seeking help for themselves or a friend.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Everything! We did so much, it's amazing!
What's next for The Mental Health Directory / Alignment
There are a lot of exciting next steps for the Alignment mental health directory. We want to continue to prioritize a positive, compassionate user experience by working on the following: Adding filters and tags that create stream-lined results A map feature emphasizing the importance of geography Features that are succinct, yet efficient for all users Bilingual/translation features Build partnerships with organizations, businesses, and individuals in the area to create informative results Create a community forum feature