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 reveal 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.
Products: Website, web application, mobile application
Compatibility: All modern browsers, Android and iOS
Market: Serbia and region (pending global expansion)
Technologies: ReactJS with Gatsby, NodeJS, Spring Boot, MySQL, Kotlin Multiplatform
Status: Website and web application - May 2023, Mobile application - Summer 2023
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.
To meet the ambitious goals, Selfnest co-founders Aleksandra, Tamara, Sebastian, and Luka knew they needed to assemble a resilient team. They understood that it is the only way to detect weak spots early or before they even happen and come up with strategies to adapt and resolve issues in a timely manner. The team was composed of a web designer, web and mobile developers, QA testers, and a psychotherapist as an expert on the subject, along with a marketing and legal team.
It took 2 years to develop and roll out the first version of the platform. We self-financed all the work we conducted so far, which involved:
In parallel, we’ve worked on establishing a strong social media presence since day one. Our profiles allow us to build personal connections with anyone who wants to learn more about psychotherapy, seeks professional help, or wants to share their own experiences.
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.
More precisely, Selfnest is intended to:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As an added benefit, we’ve included a gift card program that enables users to subscribe to Selfnest at a reduced price. The system is seamlessly integrated into the web and mobile app, allowing psychotherapy clients to easily enter the promotional code and use it instantly.
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:
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:
Selfnest is officially live! As we’ve already got several clients using the app on a regular basis, our developers are focused on monitoring the app performance to ensure smooth performance and accessible UX. We will continue to update Selfnect to include features that match our users’ requirements, that way delivering a comprehensive online psychotherapy platform.