As COVID-19 and others distressing situations continue to contribute to the rise in mental health complications, one of the leading ICT companies Sparc Systems Limited has partnered an organisation called Caring Hands Center to develop a mobile application that will help provide therapy for such problems.
According to Caring Hands Center founder and managing director, Christine Mhone, their organisation entered the partnership as a way of promoting mental health awareness and promoting a society in which everyone can benefit from good mental health.
“The App will automate the processes of awareness to individuals who are mentally disturbed or who are stressed and anxious and are seeking therapy to ease their state. It will also automate the activities involved when individuals are trying to reach out to service providers (therapists) by providing a feature that will enable them to remotely book therapy sessions.
"To minimise face-to-face interactions in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, the mobile App will also automate this process by providing a user interaction platform feature that will enable them to chat, discuss various mental health issues and interact with each other in a group format,” she said.
Mhone further said the App will encourage openness around mental health issues which include depression, addiction disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse.
“We will also reduce stigma around mental health. The App will not discriminate against race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, etc. We will put special emphasis in encouraging people with albinism, people with disabilities, migrants, ex-prisoners, drug addicts, people with alcohol problems, etc. We want to achieve a healthy mental wellbeing for all and help in advancing SDG #3 [health goal] and help reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being,” Mhone added.
On their part, Sparc Systems will be responsible for developing the application from scratch unto implementation.
Sparc Systems Africa’s acting group head of sales and marketing, Harry Kasandala said they are happy to partner with Caring Hands Center saying the impact of COVID-19 has promoted rise in mental health issues.
“We have lost loved ones, most people are struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet, and many other issues. Most people are struggling thinking about how they take the next day. Most of the people end up into alcohol and illicit drug abuse or even suicide. At Sparc systems we are happy to partner with NGOs like Caring Hands to help have a better nation health wise whose people can become productive citizens of this country.
“We will be providing technical expertise to develop the Mental Lab App. I should say this is a complex App to develop as it will have a combination of medical informatics, third party integrations, youtube, a blog, social media and payment gateway functionalities all in the Mental Lab App. It will also allow those in need of meeting a therapist to be able to book the sessions online and be able to meet the therapist either in person or online.
“The app will provide awareness by displaying videos for the subject matter, newsfeeds, allow self-assessment by providing self-assessment quiz, allowing the individual bookings for therapy, video conferencing and group chat amongst others. Since this is an App we have plans to scale it up to be able to deploy it across the world. We expect this system to take us seven months to develop including the bank end. The prototype will be ready in the next one month where we will get feedback from Caring Hands and their partners and perfect it based on their feedback,” Kasandala explained.
As part of the commitment towards dealing with mental health issues, Kasandala said Sparc also used arts by partnering with Khala for the Jazz sessions.