7 April 2015

Coming Soon: A Social Networking App To Help People With Depression

Image: Zakharia Mesropov

MIT student Robert Morris is working on ‘Koko’, a social networking app for iPhone that aims to help people suffering from depression.

Having a keen interest in psychology, Morris had enrolled in a PhD program to make mental health accessible to all, and discovered he was horrible at coding. As he dealt with depression over programming mistakes, he stumbled upon the computer programming Q&A website Stack Overflow.

Inspired by the website users who came to his rescue whenever he had a problem, he started wondering how he could apply the same concept to help address “bugs” in one’s thinking.

Morris got the idea for the app while working on ‘Panoply’, an experimental social platform he built as part of his PhD dissertation.

Comprising a user base of 166 volunteers, the platform would ask “What’s wrong?” whenever someone posted something. The person was then asked to describe their thoughts and explain their reasons for feeling a certain way.

Other users on the network would then reinterpret their answers, with good answers being voted up. The community was taught to provide answers that fell within the guidelines of proven cognitive therapy techniques.

“Some people go into a downward spiral when laid off, where others are resilient and bounce right back. The best differentiator between these two types of people lies in their interpretation of what happened,” said Morris in a Fast Company article.

Going mobile serves to keep users engaged by having them spend small pockets of time throughout the day practicing positive thinking. The mobile nature of it also removes the stigma of seeking psychological help.

Currently a work in progress, Morris hopes to have the ‘Koko’ app up and running by this fall.

Sign up to be notified of its release here.

[via Fast Company, image via IMGembed]