Caring Hands’ Spiwe Zulu (left) and SPARC’s Kasandala after signing the MoU
* The Mental Lab App will automate the processes of awareness to individuals who are mentally disturbed
* Or who are stressed and anxious and are seeking therapy to ease their state of mind
* Plans are to scale it up to be able to deploy it across Africa and the world
By Duncan Mlanjira
Caring Hands Center Limited, a non-profit organization that promotes mental health awareness and the importance of a healthy mental wellbeing, has partnered with one of Malawi’s top ICT companies, SPARC Systems Limited to develop a mental health awareness App.
The Mental Lab App is aimed at promoting a culture in which the public should be abreast of the importance of keeping good mental health as it will simulate the automation of processes involved when one seeks mental health therapy.
In an interview, Caring Hands’ founder and managing director, Christine Mhone said the app “will automate the processes of awareness to individuals who are mentally disturbed or who are stressed and anxious, and are seeking therapy to ease their state”.
“It will also automate the activities involved when individuals are trying to reach out to service providers (therapists) by providing a feature that will enable them to remotely book therapy sessions.
“To minimize face-to-face interactions in this time of CoVID-19 pandemic, the mobile app will also automate this process by providing a user interaction platform feature that will enable them to chat, discuss various mental health issues and interact with each other in a group format.”
Mhone said SPARC Systems is developing the application from scratch up to implementation stage and they will be supporting the application when it is up and running.
“SPARC Systems is responsible for all the technical requirements and they are working with us to provide a comprehensive and sustainable solution and ensure the project has been implemented successfully and risk is minimized.”
Harry Kasandala, acting Group Head of Sales & Marketing for SPARC Systems Africa, said the CoVID-19 has affected many through mental health issues in one way or another, such as having been stressed up from the struggle on how to put food on the table and make ends meet.
“Most people are struggling thinking about how they will face the next day. Some of the people end up into alcohol and illicit drug abuse or even considering committing suicide.
“Thus SPARC Systems felt obliged to partner with Caring Hands to help have a better national health wise whose people can become productive citizens of this country.
“I should say this is a complex App we are developing as it will have a combination of medical informatics, third party integrations, youtube, a blog, social media and payment gateway functionalities all in the Mental Lab App.
“It will also allow those in need of meeting a therapist to be able to book the sessions online and be able to meet the therapist either in person or online.”
The App has been developed by SPARC’s own software technicians from scratch and is set to provide awareness by displaying videos for the subject matter, newsfeeds, allow self-assessment by providing self-assessment quiz, allowing the individual bookings for therapy, video conferencing and group chat amongst others.
“We have plans to scale it up to be able to deploy it across the world,” Kasandala said. “We expect this system to take us 7 months to develop including the bank end.
“The prototype will be ready in the next one month where we will get feedback from Caring Hands and their partners and perfect it based on their feedback.
“As SPARC Systems, we are the leaders in technology in Africa and will do our best to help where required. We noticed mental health issues already before and we partnered with Khala for the Jazz sessions (using arts to deal with mental health).
“This is another partnership which shows how we take mental health issues seriously.”
Last month, SPARC launched a new window for academic institutions — the Student Academic Record Information System (SARIS) — to be used by colleges and universities to manage student records and provide management of a 360 degrees view of their institutions.
The technology is set to provide services such as student registration processes, to student time at school up to graduation.