Hacking Mental Health in the Workplace Hackathon at e-Health 2017 Conference and Tradeshow

Hacking Health returned this year to the e-Health Conference & Tradeshow (June4-6, 2017) in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to tackle one of Canada’s most pressing challenges: workplace mental health and wellbeing. Work stress and mental health are pressing challenges for much of the Canadian workforce. Nearly 40% of long-term disability claims in Canada are related to psychological health. The changing demographics of the Canadian workforce mean that we require new and innovative ways to foster and support a healthy and productive workforce now and in the future.

The goal of the 2017 Hacking Health at e-Health hackathon was to develop innovative, evidence-informed, gender-responsive, and culturally-appropriate digital mental health solutions that foster the labour force participation of women, men and gender-diverse people at risk of or struggling with workplace stress or mental health injuries. The following nine project ideas were assigned:

  • Mental support application for precarious and unemployed workers
  • Supporting the mental health of long-term care workers
  • Fostering well-being, stress reduction and sense of belonging during critical transitions to full-time work
  • Taking control of digital stress in health-care settings
  • E-health interventions for Indigenous mental health in the workplace
  • Addressing the burden of addictions on the workforce with e-tool solutions
  • Building accessible mental health literacy training and supports for under-resourced health-care workplaces
  • Developing an e-mental health program for prevention of major depression in workplaces
  • Role strain support for caregiver employees through digital solutions

Hackers were matched with teams of CIHR researchers and power users to build prototypes over the three-day hackathon, and watched a Hacking Health coaching video featuring experienced hackers before they started.

“The role of the researcher is to advocate on behalf of the user,” they advised. “Always ask. Never Tell,  and convey compassion and empathy in the products you make.”

Starting at 9:00 PM on Sunday, June 4, the teams worked on-site at the e-Health Conference to develop prototypes and prepare pitch presentations by the final presentation and awards deadline of 3:30 PM on Tuesday, June 4.

  • “WellCome” chatbot that offers links to local supporting resources for the precarious or underemployed, particularly women who are new to Canada.
  • “Take Your Break” break reminder app that offers long-term care workers the option to energize or relax, with links to exercise or meditation videos, and a coaching tool that awards points.
  • “Well Link” AI technology will use machine learning to adapt to language needs. The team used the “lived” experience of their power user to develop aspects of the bot language.
  • “CogNeat” AI tool that streamlines and curates the daily info overload faced by clinicians.
  • “Wiiji” app that recognizes unique mental health workplace issues faced by indigenous employees, and offers solutions based on traditional and modern medicine by using a medicine wheel to link to relevant mental health resource.
  • “Instead app” that queries users at risk of addiction about their mental health and offers alternate activities from a personalized dashboard.
  • “Ripple Bot” customizable mental healthcare literacy training bot that teaches by answering simple mental health awareness questions such as: How can I help? What should I say? How do I know? Why should I care?
  • “HardHat” combats major depression in the workplace by reminding employers/users to protect mental health and safety as well as physical.
  • “Open Door” encouraging Human Resources managers to encourage productivity by implementing a caregiver-friendly workplace.

Hacking Health co-founder Luc Sirois hosted the Tuesday afternoon presentation and awards ceremony. Judging sponsors from Bizagi, Cossette Health, Desjardins, Gevity, Interac and Orion Health awarded the following prizes:

Cossette Health Design Award, consisting of  a1:1 matching contribution for any investment made with Cossette Health post-hackathon was awarded to Well-Link, Wiijii, Instead, and Open Door. CIHR and MHCC People’s Choice (Muse headbands for all team members and free registration to eHealth 2018 Conference and Tradeshow in Vancouver) awarded to Take Your Break. Take Your Break also won the Gevity Healthier World Award, which includes management consulting services customized to project needs (valued at $10,000); Business Advisory Services (Senior Executive); Technical Review and Mentoring (Architectural); Quality and Testing Review (Quality Assurance Team); User Interface Design Review (Interface Design Team). Desjardins/Hacking Health Impact Award (Fit Bits for team members) was awarded to Ripple Bot. Orion Health Innovation Award (Up to 8 hours of advisory support with Chief Medical Officer) went to HardHat. Interac Scalability Award ($1000) was awarded to WellCome. Bizagi Technology Award (Tech baskets for all team members) went to CogNeat.