News

2020.04.27 12:00

Lithuanian app provides emotional support during quarantine

Emerging Europe2020.04.27 12:00

A Lithuanian app supported by country's NGOs and psychological services is helping people affected by the coronavirus crisis access emotional support.

Everyone’s mental health is being severely challenged during the global pandemic and access to emotional support is scarce compared to pre-quarantine times.

Before the crisis, approximately 12 percent of the world’s population was in need of psychological support. Given that there are currently three billion people in lockdown, at least 360 million are experiencing strong emotional imbalance.

A new Lithuanian-made app, Act On Crisis (AOC), aims to fill this gap by providing a package of emotional support tools that includes breathing techniques, anonymous support communities and free therapy sessions with certified professionals.

Created in just a few weeks as a response to the global health crisis, the AOC app is already available for download on the App Store. An Android version is coming soon. The idea was first developed during the Hack the Crisis hackathon in Lithuania, where it won an invitation to join the international Startup Wise Guys accelerator programme.

The app then claimed second place among the more than 1,000 projects from 100 countries which took part in The Global Hack, a hackathon organised to identify solutions to ease the impact of Covid-19 around the world.

“In the face of this crisis, the need for community, especially on an emotional level, is growing,” says Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė, one of the founders of the app. According to her, with a fifth of the world’s population currently under lockdown and facing the same challenges at the same time, the situation is unprecedented.

“All experiences during this period will have a common denominator. Therefore, we’ve created a tool to help people going through similar experiences connect and let them know they’re not alone in their emotional struggle,” says Vaitkevičiūtė.

The app provides three levels of comprehensive assistance: breathing techniques, anonymous interviews with community members, and individual consultations with certified professionals.

The app already has 16 psychologists available for consultations in Lithuanian, English and Russian, and their numbers are expected to grow in the future. Organisations like the Lithuanian Psychological Association and Mental Health Perspectives have officially partnered with AOC. They will offer about 200 hours of consultations a week free-of-charge during the coronavirus pandemic.

Besides Vaitkevičiūtė, there is an entire Lithuanian team of psychology, IT, digital marketing and communication specialists behind AOC, and the rapid development of the app amid the pandemic illustrates how the startup community in Vilnius responds to challenges with creative ideas and a collaborative spirit.

From 3D-printing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers to developing spare parts for lung ventilators and creating new tools for small businesses to sell their products online – comprehensive solutions are being developed at extreme speeds to address the Covid-19 challenge in a timely manner.

This story previously appeared on Emerging Europe.