MentalHealthPH, with its commitment to creating a safe online space that is mentally healthy, brings you a new technological innovation this #SafeInternetDay, Kapwa.
Kapwa is a menu-based Twitter chatbot, the first of its kind for NGOs in the Philippines. Part of MHPH’s growing initiatives to provide access to mental health support services in the digital space, Kapwa aims to make everyone feel supported, heard, and seen as we continue to adjust and live in the new normal.
A growing need to provide mental health support
The world faced a new mental health challenge when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted to lockdown restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. Almost all of us have been forced to stay at home, affecting our social lives and the support we get from it.
In the first quarter of 2021, the number of calls to the crisis hotlines had increased fourfold, with calls averaging at 1,002 per month. Compared to 1,540 calls recorded from January to March 2020, the rise in number has caused alarm in the mental health community.
According to the National Center for Mental Health, the reasons for most of the calls received were anxiety and depression, stressful life events, interpersonal and mood concerns, and referral services.
This indicates that people are finding ways to address their mental health concerns and gain access to services dedicated to this. The question though is that is there enough access for everyone?
Our move to provide access and how Twitter heeded our call
In MentalHealthPH, we have always advocated for better access to MH services to the Filipinos. In our social media accounts, we receive a lot of inquiries asking for help for their mental health. Because our organization runs solely on volunteers, the messages we receive couldn’t be answered immediately due to high volume. To address this, we started thinking of alternative ways to still provide MH first aid to those who need it.
This is when Twitter came in to help us in our journey. We have conceptualized a way to reply to messages immediately, especially since these messages could be a life-or-death situation.
The Kapwa Chatbot
First of its kind in the NGO space in the Philippines, the Kapwa chatbot is a menu-based chatbot that we’ve developed and will eventually launch on Twitter. As we go along our mental health advocacy journey, this initiative is a huge step forward in addressing the rising call for help, especially with the ongoing pandemic.
Our primary goal is to make struggling people feel that their concerns are being heard and that in emergency situations, they can be directed to mental health services available for them.
Using the Kapwa chatbot is simple. Just send a direct message to us on the Kapwa Twitter account @kapwamh, and Kapwa, our online persona, will guide you to achieve what MH service you need. It can be as simple as Kapwa providing links to meditation videos when you’re feeling stressed to hotlines to call when you are experiencing a mental health emergency. To make it more user-friendly, we’ve also used conversational Filipino as the medium of language, aiming to reach as many Filipinos as we can. Kapwa is intuitive, friendly, and most of all, accessible at all times, allowing us to create a safe space you can rely on for your mental health journey.
Our journey towards being mentally healthy is a long and challenging road, but at the same time sweet and beautiful. With Kapwa on our side, every Filipino can be assured that #MayKaramayKa.