Bondies go global with mental health start-up

July 02, 2022

Bond University student Jackson Miller and a team of Bondies have received funding towards voice-note inspired start-up, vybu.“Last year, I found myself in a tough spot mentally and I found it very hard to talk to people,” says Mr Miller.According to Mr Miller, vybu does more than just provide a platform to exchange voice notes.The World’s Challenge Challenge invites students from universities around the world to form teams and propose solutions based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.The World’s Challenge Challenge began at Western University in Canada in 2013 and expanded to include a global competition in 2017.

July 1, 2022

Bond University student Jackson Miller and a team of Bondies have received funding towards voice-note inspired start-up, vybu.

A group of Bond University students have been awarded $15,000 for achieving second place in the World’s Challenge Challenge – a global problem-solving competition aimed at addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The four-person team comprised of students Jackson Miller, Ellie Mackey, Holley Slatterey and Megan Van Der Velde, presented vybu (pronounced Vibe You) – software designed to reduce loneliness using pre-recorded messages from loved ones.

Team Leader Jackson Miller said the idea came about after he personally experienced mental health struggles.

“Last year, I found myself in a tough spot mentally and I found it very hard to talk to people,” says Mr Miller.

“I’d been a support person for a number of my friends who had been having a tough time, so I sort of thought I was immune to feeling that way myself. 

“I didn’t realise that I had put all these expectations on myself to be a source of strength for those around me, but when it came to asking for help, I didn’t feel comfortable doing so.”

In 2021, vybu was born - a software platform designed to reduce the stigma around mental health by facilitating conversation and encouraging people to make use of mental health resources.

Vybu's concept is simple - users can listen to voice messages that have been pre-recorded by loved ones when they feel they need support.

“I think voice memos became particularly popular over the last couple of years, as people began to develop social anxiety due to being isolated and disconnected from their friends and family as a result of lockdowns. Voice memos create a more intimate connection than a text message, but they’re less confronting than a phone call,” says Mr Miller.

“The main advantage of sending a voice note over sending a text for example, is being able to hear someone’s voice at a time that’s most convenient to you."

According to Mr Miller, vybu does more than just provide a platform to exchange voice notes.

“A lot of the time when people are struggling, we don’t know what to say, and sometimes we’re afraid to say the wrong thing. The app actually gives professional advice on what to say,” explains Mr Miller.

“We engaged a team of psychologists and advisors who have years of clinical psych experience who are currently consulting on the best content, sentence starters and even full scripts, which users can record their voice over.

“This give people something to say, even when they don’t quite know what to say. It takes away that barrier of nervousness or doubt that you’re going to say the wrong thing.”

With the competition behind them, Mr Miller is focussed on taking vybu to the next level. 

“The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive from the competition judges. People are really looking forward to being able to use vybu,” says Mr Miller.

“The funds will likely go towards app development costs and content and script creation, so that we can get this platform in the hands of users as soon as possible.

The World’s Challenge Challenge invites students from universities around the world to form teams and propose solutions based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

The World’s Challenge Challenge began at Western University in Canada in 2013 and expanded to include a global competition in 2017. The annual event was this year held virtually and saw 16 teams from around the world compete in front of a panel of academics from Canada’s Western University.

The source of this news is from Bond University

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