App to self-assess mental health

SAFL to be launched at a webinar today

At a time when studies have shown that a significant proportion of India’s population is suffering from mental disorders of varying severity, a group of volunteers comprising psychiatric professionals and techies have come up with a mobile app for self-assessment of mental health.

The app – SAFL – an acronym for ‘Self Assessment For Life’ will be launched at a webinar ‘Saving Lives – Mental Health Matters’ at 5.30 pm on November 19.

Focus on confidentiality

Kishor M. Rao, an associate professor of Psychiatry at JSS Medical College in Mysuru, told The Hindu that the app, which can be downloaded on play store, is free and helps not only in self-assessment, but also carrying out an assessment of a friend or a family member. It has been designed in a manner that the user’s confidentiality will be maintained. The app does not collect any information to identify an individual user like name, mobile number or residential address.

After the assessment, which can be completed in barely one or two minutes, the app will provide links to ‘Talk to Someone Now’, ‘Consult Expert (Psychiatrist/clinical psychologist/physician)’, ‘Books that can help’, besides providing links to questions like ‘Do you feel like life is not worth living?’ and ‘Do you know someone who may be considering suicide?’. However, the app or its makers – Minds United for Health Sciences and Humanity – will not be able to reach any user irrespective of the assessment. Dr. Kishor said the app will be useful particularly in view of the stigma associated with consulting a psychiatrist. Efforts are under way to bring out the app in vernacular languages like Kannada, besides making it available even on app store.

Former DC of Mysuru Abhiram G. Sankar, who is now the Deputy Director of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, will be the chief guest while Superintendent of Mandya district police K. Parashuram will be the guest of honour.

Talks on various aspects

On the day, H. Basavanagowdappa, principal, JSS Medical College, will speak on ‘Need of Mental Health Evaluation Apps for Doctors and Health Professionals’ while Honorary Secretary of Indian Psychiatry Society T.S. Sathyanarayana Rao will speak on ‘Role of Professional Organisations in enabling people for self-evaluation in mental health’.

The president of Minds United for Health Sciences and Humanity Trust Kanchana M. will speak on ‘Role of NGOs in technology-based solutions for health conditions’ and Pratibha Kantanavar, Technical Head, SAFL app, will speak on ‘Technical issues in building apps for mental health’.

Software professional Harini Kiran will speak on ‘Why techies need apps for mental health?’ and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at St. Johns Medical College in Bengaluru Dr Suhas Chandran will speak on the ‘Role of psychiatrist in designing mental health apps’.

Dr Vinay, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medical Sciences, Mandya, and Dr. Kiran Kumar, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, VIMS, Bengaluru, and Sandeep B.H., Well-being Officer, Mandya district police, will also be present.

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