Blues Buddies is a social iPhone app conceived to facilitate social exchange and healing between people with clinical depression.
Depression is a major problem in modern societies, and often the cheaper cures offered by healthcare systems are chemical. With few exceptions, chemical therapies hide the symptoms but don’t help with the causes of depression, and patients are encouraged to seek for various kinds of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, CBT, and others are rarely covered by private insurances, and require large investments of money and time and a certain maturity and commitment to be undertaken. Depressive states are usually accompanied by loneliness, because of the stigma following the illness, talking with healthy people who could support is difficult because they rarely understand, and finding other people going through the same challenges in one’s area is usually very difficult.
The solution is Blues Buddies, a geolocation meeting environment that allows people with depression to find each other and provides the users tools to help each other, and perform various healing actions, such as sharing, talking, listening and meeting.
How does this work? Let’s see the demo. This demo has been created during the last weekend here at the iOS development camp by our team, so it is NOT a final product, but it can give you an idea. We are planning to make a better demo in the next months.
A core value of the app is that it helps the users connect with their emotions, several times per day, it allows the users to connect such emotions to events in their life, and provides the tools to find other people in the same area for online chat and real life meetings. The first screen, that is also a kind of game accessible at any moment, asks you what are your feelings now. The icon that is chosen will stay in a corner of the screen, and can be changed at any moment. Choosing an emoticon brings us to the geolocation systems, we search for Buddies in Amsterdam, and here are some. THey are not located on the map, because of safety reasons, but we can see them in this scrolling bar, and we don’t immediately see their faces but the emoticons that represent them, because this is not a dating site where the first thing is appearance, we want people to connect through their emotional state. If we look at a profile we see a picture, that is of course optional, and above the picture the emotional state that person is in at the moment. The profile features different kinds of content from the user, and also what the user has to offer, such as the experience in dealing with depression, and times in which he is available to listening to others. Associations for other illnesses, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, have developed a model in which people who have been clean for some time help people who have just started fighting the addiction and become what is called “sponsors”, offering time to help; the system is a bit anarchic but it seems to work very well, and this app adopts the same principle. There will be the possibility of private chats between members, and also a common area that is not featured here to provide additional social safety against whoever decided to take advantage in an unhealthy manner of the system. For the same reasons, members can meet if they want, but the meetings are encouraged to be group meetings, along the MeetUp model, that was actually developed originally for people with mental illness, and one person has to take the responsibility to be the Moderator. Like in other self-organized meetings, the self-imposed responsibility usually is enough for that person to really make sure the meeting goes well, also (some) responsibility has a healing effect, and that can help too. In the app there will be ample space for professional help, such as suicide hotlines and other help available in the area, the directories will also be updated by members to make them always functional, and it will be possible to find other material and resources on how to deal with depression and how to give and receive help.
Awareness, meditation, life management can help with depression but it is not specific
Apps to interact with people: not so many, and random, other users can be anywhere in the world, and that does not harness the power of mobiles that is localization.
This is the basic project, we are looking for funding and we are confident that institutions will be happy to use such an app to improve existing initiatives aimed at helping depression. Thank you for listening.
Project presentation at iOS DevCamp 2012
Find help for depression via your iPhone
1 out of 10 experience depression in their life no cheap alternatives to “just pop a pill” loneliness
BLUES BUDDIES allows people tofind each other and help each other SHARE TALK LISTEN MEET