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AUS students’ mental health app bags first place at Dubai Health Authority Health Hack 2019
A team of students from American University of Sharjah (AUS) won first place at the Dubai Health Authority Health Hack 2019 for creating an application that aims to assist people with depression and anxiety. The team is currently working with the Dubai Health Authority to make it a reality.
The AUS team bagged the first prize of AED 60,000 for the development and design of the mobile application— Mindspire, which aims to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety through a personalized recommendation system. It provides users with periodic screening of their mental state and identifies possible symptoms.
“The application is designed with a focus on anonymity and minimal user intervention. This is done through the combination of non-intrusive analysis as well as very few active inputs from the user. The user needs to only input their age, gender and interest in participation,” said Vikram Sakkia, a computer engineering student at AUS.
The focus of the competition was to create solutions for people of determination to empower them. The team had to develop a prototype within 30 hours in the first round of the competition. Once the team reached the semi-finals, they were given a month to develop the application and functions.
“This competition helped us understand some of the difficulties people with mental and physical challenges go through, the stigma associated with their conditions and the power of technology to change their lives. We had also sought the opinions of therapists and experts in the field to make sure our application would meet the needs of the intended audience. We were able to put the technical skills we learnt from university into practice, which helped us further our own abilities as well,” said Sakkia.
He added: “The biggest challenge when overcoming a mental health issue is to enable the users to overcome the social stigma associated with it. Our application was designed to bridge the gap between people who have the symptoms and professional healthcare providers. Having come first in the competition, we are now working with Dubai Health Authority to make this application a reality.”
Commenting on the importance of the students’ participation in such events, Dr. Fadi Aloul, Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the Interim Director of the High Performance Computing Center, said:
“We encourage our students to participate in such competitions and we are very proud of this win, which is a testimony to the caliber of students we have at the university. These competitions are important because they allow the students to develop their soft skills while at the same time engaging and collaborating with the industry.”