The Official Development Agency of the City of Vilnius

Lithuanian-made app connects communities for emotional support amid global crisis

Everyone’s mental health is being severely challenged during the global pandemic, and access to emotional support is scarce compared to pre-quarantine times. The new Lithuanian-made AOC (Act On Crisis) mobile app 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 in the App Store. The app took second place among more than 1,000 projects from 100 countries 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 Vaitkeviciute, author of the app idea. 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,” Ieva says.

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

16 psychologists are already available for consultations in Lithuanian, English and Russian, and their numbers are expected to grow in the near future. Organizations 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 pandemic.

AOC is already available in the App Store for iOS users around the world, with the Android version coming soon as well. Anyone looking for emotional support or experiencing anxiety is able to easily find help using their smartphone.

The app placed second at The Global Hack held on 9-12 April. The international hackathon saw 15,000 participants from 100 countries present 1000+ innovative projects to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The mentors and judges included LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Stanford University professor and Google X founder Sebastian Thurn, Space X and Tesla board member and Future Ventures co-founder Steve Jurvetson, among others.

A Lithuanian team of psychology, IT, digital marketing and communication specialists are behind AOC. Going from idea to implementation was achieved in record time – a little over two weeks. The idea was developed during the Hack the Crisis hackathon in Lithuania, where it also won a top award and an invitation to join the international Startup Wise Guys accelerator programme.

The rapid development of the AOC app amid this 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.

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