HackMentalHealth 2018: “The Movement Has Begun”

In the upcoming century, mental health is one of the biggest challenges our nation faces. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. for people aged 15–24.
  • 46% of homeless adults live with severe mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders.

Coming together

Speakers Kelsey Crowe and Jennifer Akullian at the HackMentalHealth opening keynote with over 350+ attendees.

That’s why, on February 3–4, 2018 at California Institute of Integral Studies, we held Silicon Valley’s largest ever mental health hackathon, a 24 hour event focused on hands-on learning and partnership in the mental health space.

The HackMentalHealth team was blown away by the final numbers, with 350+ Attendees, 30+ Sponsors, and 20+ Mentors. This incredible outcome signals a growing need for innovation in the intersection of technology and mental health.

Not your average hackathon

This wasn’t an average hackathon. To be consistent with the principles of a healthy mind and body, we flipped the hackathon formula on its head.

  • For beverages, we provided Guayakí Yerba Mate and hint water instead of Red Bull.
  • We enacted a seven hour code-freeze, encouraging all participants to rest well during the event.
  • We included personal pronouns on participants’ name tags.
  • We hosted several health-oriented workshops and events, including yoga breaks, guided meditation, and even an expressive arts therapy session.
  • We also hosted a Coding for Beginners workshop to help make the hackathon open to people of all backgrounds and experiences.
  • We hosted a Lightning Talks session with presentations on diverse topics ranging from suicide to VR in therapy, mental health in developing markets to the importance of human connections.

We hope that HackMentalHealth can positively change the culture of hackathons to be healthier and less stressful.

Bridging the gap

From left to right: Ning Zhou, Matt Hirschtritt, Steven Chan, Meredith Meacham, and Jennifer Guo

HackMentalHealth’s mission is to bridge the gap between mental health professionals and technologists. That’s why we brought in over thirty mentors in the mental health professional space, including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and other healthcare professionals, led by Clare Purvis.

Each team could sign up for mentorship and engage directly with therapists and psychiatrists. Instead of developing tech products in a vacuum, we wanted to ensure that the end results of the hackathon were actually useful and practical in a professional mental health setting.

Our incredible partners

This event would not have been possible without our incredible partners and sponsors, from a variety of backgrounds.

The results

“The movement has begun. What you’re doing is a gift to humanity.” — DAVE MORIN

“The best part was meeting passionate, talented, kind people who want to make a difference. I feel inspired and energized. I’m so excited for the future of mental health care!” — Ning Zhou, UCSF Psychiatry Resident

We were so inspired by not only the final presentations, but also the participants’ enthusiasm of making a difference in the space. Our judges were industry leaders, from both the mental health and technology spaces.

Judges Courtney Brown, Seth Rosenberg, and Dave Morin. Not featured: Liz Beaven and Nicollette Maristela

Judges: DAVE MORIN, Founder and Partner Slow Ventures and Founder at Sunrise | Liz Beaven, Provost of California Institute Of Integral Studies | Seth Rosenberg, Investor at Greylock Partners | Courtney Brown, SF Suicide Hotline Director | Nicollette Maristela, Communications Specialist at Mental Health Association of SF

The final winners:

Congrats to Huddle, the winners of HackMentalHealth 2018

How can I join the HackMentalHealth Movement?

It doesn’t end here. We’re starting with a monthly newsletter and continued events throughout the year, but we need your help. Please join us in this movement.

Want to get more involved? Fill out this form for leadership opportunities.

HackMentalHealth is led and organized by Stephen Cognetta, Daniel Pourasghar, Pragya Bajoria, Nick DiRienzo, Ashwin Kumar, Clare Purvis, Alexa Meyer, Neha Madan, Zach Leach, and Edith Borrebach.

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