Student Develops A Facebook For Depression

Koko, an upcoming app based on an MIT experiment, is designed to build the world’s first social network for dealing with depression.

Created by Robert Morris, a psychology graduate of Princeton, now studying how to make mental health accessible to everyone for his PhD at MIT.

Panoply, the experimental social platform built as part of Morris’ dissertation at MIT was successful as 166 volunteers were asked to join a social network for depression. Where Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind?” when you post, Panoply would ask, “What’s wrong?” The user is asked to describe what happened and then to try to quantify why that makes him or her upset. The point is to articulate these morbid thoughts out loud so that other people on Panoply can help the user iron out the “bugs” in their thinking.

During his time working on Panoply, Morris discovered that people who were suffering from mental stress and depression felt significantly better using Panoply than using other software-based depression techniques. Now, Morris is hard at work, spinning the ideas behind Panoply into an iPhone app called Koko, which he says will be available to everyone by fall.