A self-help app to aid the mental wellbeing of our emergency services.
Oppo: A colleague or friend: ‘an old oppo of mine’. Origin the 1930s: abbreviation of opposite number.
We looked into the issues faced by our emergency services; our initial focus is the police service in particular. We found that “leaflets get binned” and “emails just wind you up”, and raising public awareness of police mental health could create targeting in some situations.
The app is designed to work like a personal diary to self-monitor stresses and pressures. It logs working hours and moods at any given time. Users can add notes to say what triggered any changes. Oppo can build up a user profile based on their inputs and offer tips on how to self-help.
The first screen creates a record of how you feel at the start of your shift; take a minute and move the slider to match your mood. The more you add throughout the shift, the better your profile will allow Oppo to tailor advice based on the data.
Starting each day on green is more positive, and a more comprehensive range of results will be recorded than if it were to begin in the middle as a neutral: ‘feeling ok’.
If you ask someone how they are, they’re likely to respond that they’re ok, whether they actually are or not.
The slider interface was decided upon after consulting with CBTs. The opinion was; the action of the slider engages the user more productively – it gives them just enough distraction from events because they have to think of their own score rather than a smaller choice of pre-set options.
To increase the human connection, notes can be added by stylus, spoken word or text keypad; Oppo would transpose user handwriting or voice to a text-based record. Familiar notes are learned and built into a scrolling menu.
Data can be viewed and compared by day, week or month. Running in tandem with shift patterns and logging any overtime works out changes that could be linked to the number of hours on duty. If the score creeps towards an overall negative state, Oppo will make the user aware and suggest ways to improve it.
A chatroom-style system is set up for the user to interact more closely with their Oppo. Conversational AI creates a closer, more personalised experience capable of understanding and responding to the natural language used between Oppo and the user.
Machine Learning will enable the system to learn from data rather than through explicit programming, designed to behave convincingly as a conversational partner.
If warning signs beyond Oppo’s remit are picked up, the user will be encouraged to try the red button to connect to a predetermined helpline.
Whilst working on the project, we’ve been asked, “Why would I want an app that tells my staff they should take a day off?” Due to their work ethic, emergency services are the ideal sector for this kind of app; they don’t skip work. Due to staff shortages, many work unofficial overtime so their teams can make ends meet. This app helps them decide whether to take the breaks they are entitled to and removes the stigma around asking for help.
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SEVERN_ has been a Contributor since 17th September 2019.