Studio Republic on Solent Mind.
Our Hack for Good event on May 17th saw five teams choose a brief supplied by a charity, each describing an issue for the team to hack. The briefs were in line with Mental Health Awareness Week's theme for 2019, body image. Our own team consisted of Lead Designer Harley, Developers Jake and Jamie, Design Intern Aryion and freelancer Jack Pritchard. We selected to work on Solent Mind’s brief, and were lucky enough to be joined by Dave and Kate from the charity itself for the whole event. Jack wrote about his experience within the Studio Republic team and of the day itself, which we hope will encourage even more freelancers and friends of the business to join futures hack days.
Their brief resonated with us; the subject of technology available to young people between 11 and 14 peaked our curiosity. We sought to explore options a little out of our core skill sets, such as having the solution being a digital game in order to target the audience alternatively.
The original suggested solution concept was a role-playing game similar to Minecraft, taking the open world game and applying it to a mental health scape to allow an entertaining but informative interactive experience for users. Our brief revolved around making something which young people could interact with long after a session with Solent Mind had ended, and we believed a game could potentially be that tool to maintain interest.
The logistics of a game became a concern early in the day, thus our team were back to the drawing board. Taking into consideration our resources and the time restraint, we re-strategised a way to create something for Mind to leave with young people once their sessions had ended. We considered the trends and digital habits of the targeted age group, and with Mind’s advice we set upon developing a chat room concept, a potential platform with a text-based interface which would encourage young students to explore how they are feeling, ask questions they may not otherwise ask, and have access to a plethora of high calibre information at their fingertips.
The Development of Classport.
The two key features were user anonymity and an incentive to encourage multiple app visits. Anonymity would be the crux in its success, as Mind’s research vastly explained as to why the lack of anonymity in many previous ideas or open air discussions may hold barriers. With Mind’s advice, we added a feature to the chatroom which would allow Moderators to speak directly with students who are exhibiting warning signs of harmful feelings or environments.
With the anonymity predicament settled, the next core focus was on reason to return. We bought in our original idea of a game, utilising the competitive element in a healthy manner. Users may educate themselves on mental health issues using the Mind approved information, and then offer their own advice to a fictional scenario or individual. This process would allow the student to process what they have learned and apply it to a scenario which is relevant to their own life, applying their new-found knowledge to logical real life strategy. Good advice scores points for the students, allowing classes to compete against one another in a friendly manner and create a leaderboard.
To work in conjunction with the chatroom, our team created a potential student-orientated app. This would host a class chat, the ability for students to voice which topics they would like to learn more on, and other functions more suited towards an app. The team felt that this would be an encouraging way to have students feel they are being listened to and are part of the app itself as opposed to a simple cold user.
We were proud of what we created for Mind in the day, and our presentation at the end of the event proved it’s positive reception. Solent Mind were notably moved by how we had utilised their research and applied what we had learnt from speaking with them throughout the day, and it was in the spirit of a charity hack day to have them see this potential digital solution be pitched to them without charge.
We'll be releasing more information about what was achieved on and beyond our Hack Day soon on our blog and on social media. If you would like to express an interest in being in Hack For Good 2020 as an agency, charity, freelancer, sponsor, speaker or other then please say hello.