The aim is to provide online psychological first aid for people in intense emotional distress and stimulate the creation of a protection network around the person at risk of self-harm or suicide. The network is based on the referral of the person at risk to an appropriate health centre close to the user’s location.
With data provided by the Ministry of Health from Brazil, we are working to connect with more than 1500 mental health public services providing free assistance. The aim of this action is to reduce the stigma of mental health disorders and facilitate access to healthcare services.
The algorithm already in use creates distinct routes during the contact phase based on information collected from the user during a process which integrates questions with motivational content in order to engage its users. This information which generates distinct approaches (also called routes or sequences) are based on age, gender, suicide risk stratification, alcohol and substance misuse and presence of external factors related with the emotional suffering such as bullying, violence and sexual abuse.
Since it was launched, the initiative has had 1497 users on its online platform providing recommendations and connecting people at risk with a social network and mental health services.
From these initial users,the most common age range is from 20-64 years old (72.8%), however, 16% are 13-19 years old, a population that has been focus of important concerns in Brazil since recent studies are showing an increase in suicide and self-harm in this group. The majority of the users have been women (73%), as can be seen in the report1.
For the range of 13-19 years there was a question about violence and 34% answered that they are experiencing some kind of harm within the family environment, 6.3% reported violence at school and 34% didn’t want to answer this question.
A survey of 5 questions from Columbia University related to the risk of suicide was applied during the online sessions and an extremely high percentage of the users (95 and 85%) answered positively for ideation of suicide. Furthermore, a great number also positively answered the questions about suicide planning (89, 88 and 63.6%).
Nowadays, the project is in contact with the Ministry of Health, which is showing support for the initiative and shared the national database of mental health services together with the electronic contacts that are essential to be able to connect with the services and send the alerts.The project has also been discussed with the Brazilian Paediatrics Society and Family & Community Medicine Society in order to align the strategy and receive local scientific support.
UK: Health Foundry Canterbury House 1 Royal Street - SE1 7LL - London
Brazil: Rua Santa, 71/131 Sao Paulo - SP - 04373-070