Our health and well-being are the foundation of our happiness and productivity. Yet, many have experienced symptoms of worsening mental health over the years, specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon further research, we came across CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) as a way to improve one's mental health individually. Therefore, we wanted to explore an efficient, low-cost way to help people improve their health through cognitive behavioral therapy.
What it does
Our app utilizes CBT to cultivate better thinking. Our emotions and thoughts can affect the way we view situations. In other words, they can “distort” our perception of reality. Psychologists have identified 16 cognitive distortions. These distortions can create a vicious cycle of negativity. However, identifying these distortions beforehand breaks the cycle and allows people to view their situations objectively. Unfortunately, none of us are completely immune to harmful thought patterns, but fortunately, anyone can practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. We noticed that the distortions corresponded with specific phrases or words in thinking. For example, the “all or nothing” generalization leads to thinking in black and white, in extremes. We identified a repository of keywords which include “never,” “always,” and “failure” to help us recognize this distortion. Our goal is to improve a person’s mental well-being and help them achieve their goals of enhanced mindfulness. Our app, thinkwrite, is unique from other therapy apps in that it is free and accessible for anyone to use!
How we built it
Through workshop 1, some of our team members were introduced to Figma as an app-creating platform. Thus, we decided to create a rough blueprint of what we wanted in our app, on Figma. Additionally, we used Java to code the main function of our project. Our app is designed to parse through a journal, search for keywords or phrases, and use that information to determine whether a person has a specific distortion (change in thought pattern) or not. We wanted to focus on one or two distortions at a time (the all or nothing generalization).
Challenges we ran into
As this was our first hackathon, we ran into many challenges regarding choosing APIs, coding, and implementation. Coding was the most difficult part as the hackathon tested our ability to think outside the box and apply what we learned in class. We tried our best and used resources including the mentors, w3schools, and youtube videos. We also found the time constraints very challenging as we had many ideas we wanted to implement but not enough time. To get around these, our team had to choose wisely which parts to prioritize and make the best use of our time.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are incredibly proud of our grit throughout this competition. In times when our code was not working and our ideas seemed weak, we reevaluated our issues and came out stronger in the end. In times of "hacker's block," where we were discouraged by our lack of progress and results, we redirected our focus towards our goal, which was to have fun and create an app that would benefit others. In the end, our team successfully participated in a hackathon, of which we're so proud of ourselves. We didn't waste a single moment of the hackathon and we truly put our all into thinkwrite.
What we learned
We learned to ask for help when necessary. During the first part of the hackathon, we struggled in creating a file in our java code. Our team spent over an hour googling and testing out different ways to create and implement files. Finally, we decided to attend a mentorship session in hopes of receiving guidance in java. Fortunately, the mentors found a specific file method that worked with our code. The mentors’ tips saved us a lot of time in coding and allowed us to focus on the more important parts of our project, such as identifying and providing mental health resources for users. Moreover, our team learned the value of collaboration in programming.
What's next for thinkwrite?
We hope to add more words to our list and increase the accuracy of identifying various distortions. Additionally, we would like to integrate licensed therapists to volunteer their thoughts and help individuals anonymously