Case Study: Selfnest - Mental Health App Development

Research that examines the state of the mental healthcare system in Eastern Europe indicates an alarming need to modernize the approach to treating problems related to mental health. Though statistics indicate that a large number of people in this region struggle with behavioral disorders, not much is done to combat these issues. 

Why is the reform of mental healthcare taking this long? Largely because the region lacks resources on the subject. As a result of this unfamiliarity with mental health issues, there is a stigma surrounding the topic which prevents people from seeking help. Furthermore, no efforts are made to change and modernize the structure that was inherited from socialist times.  

With the Coronavirus pandemic triggering greater development of mental health issues, the need for adequate care became more apparent. Since our team here at Inviggo already has extensive experience with building healthcare web applications, digital pharmacy, and other telehealth solutions for our clients, we decided to join the revolution and start a project of our own that would aid in overcoming some of the greatest obstacles in the mental healthcare field. First off, we put into play our development skills to build a digital product that would provide people with an additional channel of communication with therapists. Second, we started working on a knowledge base that would help raise awareness and educate people on mental health.

Details

Products: Website, web application, mobile application

Industry: Healthcare

Compatibility: All modern browsers, Android and iOS

Market: Serbia and region (pending global expansion)

Technologies: ReactJS with Gatsby, NodeJS, Spring Boot, MySQL, Flutter

Status: Website and web application - September 2021, Mobile application - November 2021


About the company and the project

Selfnest is a collection of digital products developed with the mission to build a bridge between psychotherapists and people who seek help for a mental health issue they want to deal with. Selfnest is Inviggo’s very own passion project: we are building a website, a web and mobile application that will serve as a medium of communication and a reliable source of information on mental health. 

The idea is to provide people with the tools necessary to overcome present-day limitations in the field of mental health and get rid of the taboo nature of the topic. Selfnest app is intended to help people find a therapist, connect, schedule appointments, and carry out text, audio, or video sessions from any place. Selfnest is also a community hub, where users can join (anonymously if they prefer it that way) and share their experiences, openly discuss problems related to mental health and get much-needed support, be it from other users who had the same struggles or from a mental health professional. 

Project duration

It took 6 months to prepare all Selfnest digital products for a launch: a website, web application, and mobile app. For its development, Inviggo gathered a team of 2 lead and 4 additional dedicated developers, along with a web designer, a psychotherapist, marketing and legal team.  

Our goals

The desire to combat the region’s conservative views on the subject was around for some time. But what jump started the project were recent events that triggered the rise in mental health issues and the need to reach out to a professional without necessarily having to pay a visit to the therapist’s office. 

Selfnest Goals

More precisely, Selfnest is intended to:

  • Raise awareness

The lack of resources represents one of the biggest reasons for the region’s lack of understanding of the subject. Inviggo decided to set up a blog on the Selfnest website and publish elaborate pieces that would help educate and raise awareness about mental health in more conservative and less developed areas. The idea is to help people recognize their problems as well as learn some of the possible ways to cope with them or become more understanding of the people in their surroundings who need help.

  • Modernize approach to therapy

The region is still known for its conservative views of mental health, leftover from the communist times. For this reason, one of the biggest and most important goals we set was to modernize the approach to treatment. To do that, we built a web and mobile application that would enable people to use their desktop and mobile devices to find a therapist, schedule an appointment, and carry out sessions without necessarily having to pay a visit to the therapist’s office. This means that anyone, regardless of their location, can get in touch with a professional via text, audio, or video and get the much-needed help.   

  • Provide easy access

Inviggo wanted Selfnest to become a new medium that overcomes all obstacles and represents an accessible platform where anyone can receive adequate mental health treatment. Our app should break geographical boundaries and enable people to connect with a therapist who is one of the utmost specialists in their field.  

  • Build a safe space

One of our main goals was to build a forum, as we saw the need for a safe environment where people can come and open a dialog about mental health and feely discuss their struggles. This goes hand in hand with our desire to modernize the approach to therapy and shed some light on the subject. 

  • Provide support for diaspora

Studies that analyze the effectiveness of a therapy for ethnic minorities showed that receiving therapeutic health in a native language was on average twice as effective than the therapy sessions in English. In fact, people tend to avoid or insist on speaking about certain topics just because they are not talking to a therapist in their native tongue. Because we realize just how important the role of a language is when it comes to forming a person’s identity, experiences and memories, we wanted Selfnest to become a tool people can use to reach out to a therapist in their first language. 

Challenges

To build an intuitive, easy-to-use, safe, and altogether highly beneficial platform for all users regardless of their age and digital literacy, the Inviggo team had to think diligently about the following features:

  • User experience

Assuming that not all application users will be tech-savvy, the Inviggo development team had to come up with an elegant solution that would be easy to use for a broad range of users. This meant paying close attention to designing an engaging website and application environment everyone will find familiar and simple to master.  

  • Calendar interface

This brings us to a carefully thought-out user interface. Naturally, we designed all sections and options on the website and web/mobile application in such a way to ensure users have no trouble getting around the platform. We were especially focused on the scheduling calendar that is supposed to ease the process of scheduling, and not be just another obstacle for non-digital natives to gain access to therapists.

  • Therapist selection process

Considering how important the relationship between clients and therapists is for the success of the therapy, we had to find a way to streamline the process of selection. The Inviggo developers worked closely with experienced and certified psychotherapists to build a system that would accurately connect users with experts who are utmost specialists in their respective fields and are, as such, most adequate to help deal with a specific mental health problem. 

  • All-round platform security and anonymity

Client confidentiality emphasizes the protection of clients’ privacy and requires therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists to safeguard the contents of therapy. Confidentiality can also entail hiding the fact that an individual is in therapy in the first place. Considering, Selfnest app was built in line with GDPR requirements, and the steps were made to protect all user data. In addition, we provide users with an option to get online therapy completely anonymously. This means that they can contact a therapist of their choosing without having to reveal their name and other personal information. 

  • Secure payment system

Finally, Inviggo searched for the best third-party payment system to make sure the financial transactions between users and therapists are as simple and safe as possible.

Selfnest Launching

Approach & technology stack

Inviggo development team has years of experience building secure mobile and web applications. With project requirements in mind, we sat down to discuss the most appropriate tech stack that would help us develop an all-together safe, intuitive, and functional digital product. The final choice of technologies came down to:

  • ReactJS with Gatsby
  • NodeJS
  • Spring Boot
  • Flutter

In addition to the smart selection of programming languages, frameworks, and tools, the Inviggo team thoughtfully approached creating other key features designed to further upgrade user experience:

  • An advanced questionnaire-based algorithm that helps connect each user with a therapist who specializes in the relevant field and can help with a specific mental health problem;
  • A practical dashboard with a convenient calendar where therapists can quickly and easily define free slots in their schedule and let patients know when they can book an appointment;  
  • A practical chat option to provide users with access to helpful customer support that would answer any urgent queries promptly;
  • Consultation with legal professionals to write and collect the necessary documentation on the use of sensitive user data for Selfnest to operate in line with GDPR standards
  • Integrated Payten and Chip Card, regional providers of end-to-end payment solutions that guarantee practical and secure financial transactions between users and therapists.

Results

How did we do? At the moment of writing, we are counting down the final days to the official launch and couldn’t be more excited to see the impact Selfnest will make in the field. 

Stay tuned for updates on results, and until then…