An actual panic button
June 18, 2018 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Not Ok is an app to let people know you need help. Designed by teenagers for both physical and mental illnesses. Hannah Lucas came up with the idea for this because she needed it herself.

During a good time, you set up the app with up to five people to contact when you're not ok. When things get bad, all you have to do is hit the button and let them know to visit or check in with you.
posted by Margalo Epps (24 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm glad this exists. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Fizz at 4:46 PM on June 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


This could legit save lives. Brilliant.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:48 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I hope this works well and takes off. It can be really hard to ask for help.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 5:31 PM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


"notOK app is now available in the Apple Store and Google Play Stores as a free download, with a $1.99 monthly subscription, and it's been downloaded thousands of times. It goes to show that I wasn't alone in my need for help."

what. i mean, pay for good engineering, but..
posted by gorestainedrunes at 7:02 PM on June 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


The FAQ states that the fee is because the app sends SMS messages to contacts, rather than requiring they have the app installed. I can understand the design choice, and the costs associated it with that, but maybe a free version that only does within-app notifications to contacts who have the app could be an alternative?
posted by brook horse at 7:16 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the 1.99 fee seems a little odd. I mean how many NotOk messages does the average user send per month and how much does it cost to send one SMS? If that's what the cost is for, it seems kind of high. I'm open to being told I'm wrong, but it does *sound* high. Also, I imagine many users might be teenagers and others who don't have credit cards.

It would be great if they could apply for a grant or sponsorship or something (not put an ad on the app sponsorship, just do-a-good-deed sponsorship.) Bell is really big on mental health in Canada, and they coincidentally run a mobile service. They could easily donate the SMSs.

Notwithstanding my thinking the price sounds high, this is great and I'm glad it exists. I'm glad this girl's mother found her in time.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:38 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


It can cost less than a cent to send a text via a third party. Charge $2 up front if you want, and you've covered all the texts most users might ever send over their lifetime and then some. If someone is sending hundreds of texts via this app, then either they really need help and it's okay if other people's payments subsidize their cost or they're just abusing the system somehow and you have a way to deal with that.

$2/month seems excessive.
posted by whatnotever at 7:41 PM on June 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


Hmm, maybe it’s something in how it’s automated that costs extra? Now that it’s been pointed it out that does seem excessive for the amount of use one would get out of it, I didn’t think sending texts was that cheap.

It’s a good start to the idea but yeah, the fee may be a big barrier for some people and I would like to see a justification of the cost. It’s a great step in the right direction, though.
posted by brook horse at 7:58 PM on June 18, 2018


I would like to see a justification of the cost

Because making an app costs money and because profit does not need a justification?

If you look at the app's Google Play store, you'll see it has less than 2K installs. Android is ~86% of the marketshare, which suggests there at most ~2300 installs in the world. Even if every single person who installs the app subscribes (highly unlikely), they are making all of $3.9K/month (after Google's 15% cut) pre-tax and pre-expenses. That's barely $15/hour for 1.5 people.

I mean, wow, someone creates an app to help save lives, and the response is "you might be making money off this, how dare you?!?!". Get over yourselves.
posted by saeculorum at 8:13 PM on June 18, 2018 [19 favorites]


I think the concern is more that the expense would be a barrier for many people. It is a neat idea, and it would be great if it were accessible to more people. It would be a shame if it only ever had a few thousand installs.

And then, even from the "profit" side of things, charging $2/month seems odd. Isn't a one-time cost more palatable to a lot of people than the subscription? I'd expect an up-front fee would both increase the number of people who would buy and thus benefit from this and increase the creators' income. But I'm not an app market expert, so hey.
posted by whatnotever at 8:26 PM on June 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


But they didn't say it was to make a profit, they said it was necessary to cover costs. I mean it doesn't actually say that. Weirdly, re-reading the FAQ answer, the question is WHY do you have to pay and the answer is mostly "here's our rates." The second half of the answer says they send the SMS through a third party app but doesn't say it costs them 1.99/month to do that. So they kind of imply, by making that the answer to why do you have to pay, that the money is to cover their costs. If they imply that instead of saying "we realized there's a market and decided to start a business," then I think it's fair to question if those actually are the costs. How are you figuring out an hourly rate if you don't know how many hours it took them to make the app?

Anyway, like whatnotever said, the main concern here is access. Both because some people won't have credit cards, won't want to have this charge show up on credit cards they have access to (i.e their parents) or will be dissuaded from a monthly a fee in a way that a one-time charge might not dissuade them.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:41 PM on June 18, 2018


Part of the cost of developing an app is labor. People deserve to get paid for doing work. I do agree that it'd be nice if they could figure out a way to do this free, but if you're expecting it to get maintained indefinitely in order to make sure it keeps working, then people need to get paid indefinitely to do that, and yeah. Most of the reason that other apps that don't have visible ads are able to be free involves venture capital and promises of future monetization.
posted by Sequence at 8:53 PM on June 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Alright, then in the FAQ where it says "Why do we have to pay?" Say "Because this was a lot of work and we deserve to be paid for our labour and we deserve to/want to make a profit." If they choose to include that FAQ question on their list and choose to imply that it's to pay the costs of SMSs, I think it's fair to call them out on whether or not that's the actually the reason. Anyway, I hope they will seek some sort of grant/community partnership/sponsorship to make this accessible to all, regardless of where the money is going.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:19 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


If they choose to include that FAQ question on their list and choose to imply that it's to pay the costs of SMSs, I think it's fair to call them out on whether or not that's the actually the reason.

Uhhh.
Between the development fees, hosting, updates, and our third-party messaging system, we are unable to offer the notOK App™ for free at this time.
So--yeah, they do in fact list all this stuff?
posted by Sequence at 10:55 PM on June 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


For fuck’s sake. Metafilter can’t let any young woman have any accomplishment, can it?

Look, this is a cool tech thing that was created by a 15-year-old black girl, who has both chronic physical and mental health issues, and her 13-year-old brother. This is a positive tech, entrepreneurship, and self-advocacy story about people who rarely get that kind of story written about them, and it’s aimed at girls who never, ever get to read stories like that where the protagonist resembles them. Do we have to nitpick this one to death? Can’t we just salute a cool thing for once?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:10 AM on June 19, 2018 [48 favorites]


I'm not bothered by the cost because I absolutely understand maintaining something like this isn't free, although I agree that even $2 a month can be a barrier for some people. I do think this is a great and (sadly) necessary thing -- sometimes it's easier just to push a button rather than actually type something out.

I wish there was a way to donate money for subscriptions for people who may want this but can't afford it. I'd happily donate $100 if that meant 4 people could use this for a year. The app is still fairly new so maybe that will happen eventually.

I'm glad we have smart, brave kids like this making cool things.
posted by darksong at 5:20 AM on June 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


For fuck’s sake. Metafilter can’t let any young woman have any accomplishment, can it?

Look, this is a cool tech thing that was created by a 15-year-old black girl, who has both chronic physical and mental health issues, and her 13-year-old brother. This is a positive tech, entrepreneurship, and self-advocacy story about people who rarely get that kind of story written about them, and it’s aimed at girls who never, ever get to read stories like that where the protagonist resembles them. Do we have to nitpick this one to death? Can’t we just salute a cool thing for once?


QFT

And jeeze louise everyone, it isn't perfect, but it's not a sin for a person to try and find ways to get paid for their work and upkeep, don't fucking blame these kids for the structures of capitalism we all live under. This is 2018, maybe you'd prefer one with micro-transactions or maybe one that might also show a trump ad? We're all angry and tired, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy things too.

I'm in a place now where I don't need this kind of app, but if I were to again, I think I'd be a little happier knowing that that portion of the money I spend on mental health goes to a person who makes a thing instead of a faceless company.
posted by neonrev at 5:34 AM on June 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


What a great idea for an app, and what a smart couple of kids.

I recently chimed in to a Twitter conversation where some people were discussing how frustrating and disappointing it was that their parents weren't interested in their theses or dissertations. I mentioned that I was a Dad, and I would happily read anyone's thesis if they wanted a Dad who was proud of them. It got a ton of responses (for me) and while I haven't read a thesis yet, I have read a few articles and provided some other Dadly support and encouragement. This is all to say that it might be cool to allow people to volunteer as "friendly strangers" who could provide check-in duties for folks who don't have enough caring people in their life that they feel comfortable listing in an app like this. I guess there is the chance that assholes and griefers would sign up, but maybe you could make the "strangers" pay - anonymously - for a needy users subscription to help prevent that.

Anyway, thanks for posting this, Margalo Epps.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:55 AM on June 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


[One deleted. Folks, maybe we don't have to go down the rabbit hole of making this a big angry fight and major redirection from the central topic of the post and app? Some feel that it's too expensive and have registered that; others disagree, and have registered that. Can we leave it there? Nobody has to give in? Not necessary to fight to the death about it? There's been a lot of discussion in Metatalk about how people feel disheartened to post things because everything comes under immediate scrutiny for how it might not be 100% perfect in every way, and a lot of negative commenting, no matter how innocuous or positive the subject may seem. We don't have to be sunshine and daisies about everything, and most things can be expressed respectfully with a bit of care, so please let's just consider that while sharing our thoughts. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:03 AM on June 19, 2018 [17 favorites]


There's a Reddit subforum that's something like that, Rock Steady. It's called r/MomForAMinute, and its aim is to let people seeking emotional support, encouragement or praise they can't get from their own parents post, and a bunch of volunteer parents will love on 'em.

It's mostly moms, granted, but there's a note in the sidebar mentioning dads and siblings too. It's a really nice little place.
posted by pseudonymph at 6:07 AM on June 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


This is a cool idea, and I'm glad there are kids like this taking steps to make the world a better place, however they can.

Margalo Epps, thanks for the link. It's a cool find and a nice, short and sweet, targeted post.
posted by biogeo at 7:24 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love this app and the creators so much. I wish something like this had existed when I was a teen. Maybe somebody would have recognized I was dealing with depression and not just perpetually crabby.
posted by epj at 11:18 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the background info ArbitraryAndCapricious!

I wonder if there's a similar solution/ option for folks who don't have anyone to contact, much less 5.

Wow, pseudonymph that r/MomForAMinute ... there's got to be some super heavy moderation there. I was curious, but after reading a few of those posts I couldn't help myself and had to back out.
posted by porpoise at 3:26 PM on June 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I love, love this app. But I find it really interesting because it requires a teenager being comfortable enough to have a panic button for their friends and family. I'm learning how to develop apps right now, but I don't think I would have been able to ever make this as a teenager because the idea of even telling my friends and family about this would have been impossible, it's just not information I would have even wanted to share and I would've rather done it on my own. A lot of it has to do with growing up Asian American and a kind of forced independence, and mental health not being even as widely known 10 years ago. Kudos.
posted by yueliang at 8:48 PM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


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