SINGAPORE: A team of four local lawyers has successfully conceptualized an innovative web tool to provide better support and counsel to individuals grappling with mental health issues. The app, aptly named Therapal, clinched one of the four coveted awards at the Hackathon for a Better World 2023 yesterday (Oct 17).

The annual hackathon, jointly organized by DBS, the Singapore Courts (SG Courts), and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), focuses on addressing critical societal challenges, with this year’s theme centring on enhancing mental resilience.

The brainchild of the Legal Aid Bureau, Therapal seeks to assist professionals, including lawyers, in identifying and understanding their clients’ potential mental health concerns. The app offers a comprehensive toolkit featuring a checklist for evaluating signs of mental health issues, resources for referrals to mental health professionals and therapists, and an AI-powered chatbot designed to initiate empathetic conversations.

The ingenuity of Therapal was acknowledged with the prestigious “Most life-changing” project award in the Hackathon for a Better World 2023 competition. The Therapal team envisions this tool will enable lawyers to pose more pertinent questions, gain deeper insights into consultation cases, and offer more effective solutions.

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The team’s motivation goes beyond accolades, as they are deeply committed to positively impacting the community. One team member remarked, “Our biggest gain is that as lawyers, we may not understand the psychological problems of those clients who come to the Legal Aid Bureau to consult them. So now the most important thing for us is to work with community partners to help them.”

Currently, the team is engaged in discussions with the NCSS to refine and develop Therapal into a practical tool for professionals, further highlighting their dedication to improving mental health support within the legal sector.

The Hackathon for a Better World 2023 commenced on July 21, with 27 participating teams representing various sectors, including legal, higher education institutions, government agencies, and social enterprises. DBS conducted a design thinking workshop to support these teams and facilitated mentorship through subject matter experts from social service agencies. The winning projects were unveiled on Tuesday, with Justice Aedit Abdullah and Ms. Tan Li San, CEO of NCSS, officiating the awards and solutions showcase at DBS Asia Central.

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Lam Chee Kin, Group Head of Legal and Compliance at DBS, expressed his commitment to promoting mental health awareness and supporting those with mental health conditions. He applauded the community’s collaborative efforts in crafting innovative solutions, emphasizing the importance of supporting one another in facing life’s challenges.

Justice Aedit Abdullah commended all the participating teams for their creativity and problem-solving spirit, underscoring the event’s role in fostering innovation and addressing contemporary concerns.

Tan Li San, CEO of NCSS, highlighted the increasing willingness to address mental health issues in Singapore, commending the hackathon participants for their innovative solutions. She encouraged participants to deepen their understanding of mental health issues and contribute their expertise to enhance mental health in workplaces.

The Hackathon for a Better World, first held in 2020, represents a unique collaborative effort between the public and private sectors. It provides a platform for the community to develop innovative solutions to tackle societal challenges.

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Diverging from traditional hackathons, which typically demand rapid solutions, this “slow-burn hackathon” spans two months, allowing participants to refine their ideas while balancing existing commitments. Previous editions of the event have focused on access to justice (2020), online harms for girls (2021), and scams (2022), making it a vital platform for addressing a diverse range of societal issues.