Cope is a mobile app that helps users reduce their anxiety levels by acting as their own therapist and guiding them through a coping session.
Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in the United States, followed by depression, and it disportionately affects young adults. According to the 2022 Deloitte Gen Z and Millennial survey, about 50% of Gen Z’s and 40% of millennials experience anxiety or stress all or most of the time. The global pandemic and subsequent shakenings have made young people even more vulnerable. Furthermore, we as a team have personally struggled with anxiety or have close loved ones that do.
Like any other mental health issue, anxiety is not trivial. It can be incredibly disruptive to a person’s life. It can lead to insomnia, lack of productivity, and depression among other things. All in all, it can paralyze people from having a full and fruitful life.
How might we make overcoming anxiety easier for young adults so that it minimizes the disruption it causes?
We interviewed seven individuals who either struggle with anxiety to some degree or have struggled with it in the past. Contrary to our hope, all of them reported that their coping mechanisms were indeed effective. However, the following problems consistently emerged in our conversations with them:
1. People often experience spikes of anxiety when their minds are filled with negative thoughts (e.g. remembering previous traumas, self-loathing, etc)
2. During those moments of anxiety, they want to talk someone, but cannot because
3. They struggle with building habits that would control the negative thoughts when they come
Our solution is Cope, a mobile app that helps users reduce their anxiety levels by acting as their own therapist. When the user is experiencing a moment of anxiety, they can turn it to express how they’re feeling, expose their negative thoughts, and end in a more positive state with help of question prompts, curated affirmation statements, and meditation. Best of all, recordings of a real, soothing human voice will guide the user through every step.
We tested our low-fidelity prototype early which helped us focus on pure functionality, not aesthetics. Even though we received some great feedback, we needed to prioritize what was important for our users.
We gained great insights after testing the high fidelity prototype and made minor iterations. Some of the insights we gained informed our next steps.
What was the hardest part of development?
The hardest part was implementing the backend because we were not sure the best way to go about it. Having in mind that the user might share sensitive content, we decided to store files locally on the phone. Fortunately, we were able to get our PM’s former colleague to help us with the backend.
Does your app have any scaling issues?
Since we are storing all data locally, there was no need for a database or a server. Therefore, our implementation is scalable with the exception that the data storage is limited by how much space the user has available on the phone.
What are some key takeaways?
Mobile apps are not easily hosted/published. It requires knowledge, time and resources.
Finding a stable library to store data for mobile apps can be time consuming, and there are not many up-to-date backend tutorials and documentations on the subject of mobile storage.
We intend to publish the app to Apple’s app store as soon as possible, but with a target launch of early Fall. Certain features still need to be developed before then such as user sign-up/login and event logging for the purposes of data analytics. Furthermore, we aim to enhance the content and production quality of the voice guide.
Post-launch, we intend to make more roll-outs such as:
Further down the line, we might explore solutions for other mental health issues such as depression. Our vision is to empower all people to take control of their mental health and lead mentally sound lives.
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