45% of Australians, at one stage in their lives, will struggle with mental health issues.
It is therefore important we find ways to reach individuals when they are in their most vulnerable state. With the abundant amount of knowledge and technology we have at our fingertips, it should be simple to solve these mental health difficulties.
A non-for-profit start-up organisation in San Francisco is using technology to assist people who are struggling with mental illness.
The mobile app is called Concrn and it enables people to help those experiencing mental health crises by connecting them with compassionate responders.
The app’s use is in an attempt to limit the amount of substance and mental health-related incidence which are directed to 911. The thing is, emergency operators such as 911 may not be the most suitable action in trying to resolve these situations. Since launching its app a couple of years ago, Concrn has responded to over 2,000 crisis reports.
Executive Director, Neil Shah, has mentioned the importance of having like-minded responders as it resonated with the overall goals, missions and values of the organisation. On a daily basis, Concrn would receive from five to 10 crisis reports, dispatching volunteers around the city of San Francisco.
“From there, it’s connecting the person to relevant services, like walking someone to a shelter, retrieving information about them from a case manager and ensuring they get reconnected,” Shah said.
The responders, who have a variety of backgrounds in social work, emergency medical training and other areas, are required to go through a 20-hour training session. The training covers conflict resolution, de-escalation training and compassionate response. If a situation is out of a responders control, they will determine whether the situation must be escalated and involve the police.
These individuals are people from the local area, know the area and its people better than anyone else. The NGO’s founder Jacob Savage has expressed his thirst for a compassionate response to the on-going social ills of the world “I hate when people say Concrn is an app,” Savage has mentioned. “Concrn is a service; we have an app. It’s an alternative to 911.”
In the future, Concrn is hoping to raise $250,000 to continue developing the service and launch an app for responders. With their current technology, a dispatcher handles the inbound report, but the app allows responders to connect directly with the individual in need. Concrn also hopes to create a replicable playbook to distribute to other communities that experience similar issues.
“Our vision is one where through a combination of the community training and technology, we can build self-reliant communities that are best able to provide compassionate and humane care to those in need.” Shah said, “through Concrn, we create a more effective path to resilience for vulnerable people in need of support.”
We can only hope that Australia will one day be able to harness this technology in some way shape or form. With one in four young Australians experiencing some degree of mental illness, we face an important issue with a somewhat simple solution. The number of lives that can and will be saved through the use of this digital technology and medium is awesome.