Over the weekend of the 23 and 24 April 2016, the Anna Freud Centre hosted its first Hackathon! The aim of the event, co-produced by the joint efforts of Founders and Coders and the London and South East CYP IAPT Learning Collaborative, was to improve the digital technology used in children and young people’s mental health services.
The two intensive days saw five teams working closely together to generate the idea for their app and produce a working prototype ready to pitch to a panel, all in the space of 48 hours! The winning app receives funding for further development to turn it into an open source product accessible for all to use. Teams consisted of coders from Founders and Coders and Mayden; children, young people and young advisors connected to the AFC and CYP IAPT programme; and clinicians and professionals connected to the London and South East learning collaborative, and beyond.
Fuelled by donated pizza from Pizza Union, the teams formed on Friday evening to talk through ideas, ready to begin coding the following day. We grouped teams into five themes: data, self-management, service management, communication with services and clinical work. Attendees were free to choose which team to join depending upon their interest.
Several speakers opened the event on Friday evening. Peter Fonagy, Peter Fuggle, Barbara Rayment (Director of Youth Access) and John Loder (Head of Health Strategy at NESTA) outlined some of the key challenges young people face when suffering from a mental health issue. Funding issues and staff capacity in services featured throughout all of the talks, as did the importance of producing a digital tool that could provide support to both the young person and CAMHS, whilst working towards reducing stigma.
By late Sunday afternoon, the groups had five healthy looking prototypes ready to be pitched to the panel and shared with the other teams.
The Five Prototypes
MindAid: a first aid mental health app for teachers. Designed for teachers with little knowledge of mental health, MindAid helps screen pupils at the point of being seen, provides teachers with relevant, up-to-date mental health information and signposts to the best local resources for each child.
N-Dolphins: a self-management smartphone app for all young people experiencing a mental health problem. Designed so that it can be used even by those on waiting lists, this app is a mood tracker and event manager which allows the user to create personalised greetings to promote and monitor well-being, input emergency contacts on speed dial to provide safeguarding measures and reassurance, setup a rewards system and have access to personal metrics data to view and monitor progress.
How Am I doing?: making data useful. Designed to collect RCADS data in real-time, this app helps users avoid double entry and failing to keep on top of data input. It provides clear, intelligent feedback for users in the form of bar charts and other visuals so that change is easily viewed and tracked.
Hub Site: a safeguarded event organiser for young people and CAMHS users. This app will use postcode mapping to show the users a list of relevant upcoming events in their local area. As with other event management tools such as Eventbrite, users can set filters to demarcate specific interests so that push notifications send when an event is on, alerting the users and ensuring they don’t miss out, even if they haven’t signed in to the app. Organisers are able to use this tool to run events and manage attendees.
Share Plan: assessment tracking system. Designed to keep clinicians to task when completing an assessment, and to enable service users to track progress and status of information, this app will form part of the process of managing applications. Once the clinician has drafted the assessment, service users will have access to view and edit the letter.
Each team had a ten-minute slot to present their prototype to the room, then it was over to the panel to vote for the winning app. With this many excellent ideas presented, the panel found it tough to make a decision – so difficult was it to choose one winner that the panel ended up voting for three! The Hub, How Am I Doing? and N-Dolphins all tied in first place. The audience voted for the runner up, with Share Plan winning the most votes to claim this title. The prize fund will be divided equally across the three winning teams, but all the teams that took part will receive some funding and product development support towards further development of the open source app.
The Hackathon generated some excellent ideas, and it was great to see so many people from different areas coming together and working collaboratively to design an app that will benefit children’s well-being and services. We at London and SE Learning Collaborative want to say a big thank you to all those that attended, and helped to organise, the event. We are excited to see the prototypes develop, and will provide an update as soon as the working model is ready. We are also planning follow-up sessions and future Hacks. Do get in touch if you want to be kept updated.
Hackathon photography: Irina Nedelcu