One of the major activities of the IT4Anxiety project is the organisation of hackathons. These events bring together people from different backgrounds to work on co-creating solutions. The first hackathon took place on 18 and 19 March in Amsterdam, organised by the IT4Anxiety partner, Vrije Universiteit. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this hackathon, which mobilised about 50 participants, was held via video conference.
Five teams participated in this hackathon, which was brilliantly led by the entire VU Amsterdam team with the support of Jesse van Doren from Brize. After deliberation, the jury members decided to deliver the first award to the Psylaris team and the second to the Psyflix team.
The startup Psylaris was founded in 2017 by Mike Verhiel and Christoph Lynen. They use virtual reality to treat people suffering of mental disorders. Their solution is based on EMDR, exposure and relaxation. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy treatment that alleviates the stress associated with traumatic memories. During sessions, users relive traumatic experiences in brief doses while the therapist directs eye movements. The effectiveness of EMDR is based on the fact that the recall of distressing events is often less emotionally traumatic when attention is diverted. A prize of €1500 was awarded to them, but the main benefit of this recognition is the networking it provides: “We are already in the market, we are producing results, and we are having an impact on the people. Then we hope a lot of interesting parties will reach out to us to collaborate. We always need more help!” https://www.psylaris.com/en/
The second prize of €1000 was awarded to Psyflix, a very young startup created by two psychologists, Tim Wind and Bram van der Boom. Psyflix is a training video platform tailored to mental health practitioners. They put their business idea into practice during the first lockdown (Spring 2020), when mental health professionals had to use digital tools to monitor their patients remotely. The Psyflix platform contains videos of experts from around the world explaining their modes of therapy. The content is determined in collaboration with subscribers in order to provide practitioners with as much relevant and up-to-date knowledge and expertise as possible. The directors were delighted to receive the second prize: « We are starting up and there is a lot we don’t know. We are psychologists, not businessmen. We started out of a need and passion.” https://psyflix.net/en/about/
The next hackathon will be held in Bielefeld (Germany) on 29 and 30 October. This will be followed by the third hackathon in Lille (France) on 19 and 20 January 2022.