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AppDate: Panda aims to bring down suicide rate

In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights the Panda wellness app, the SubjeX digital education platform, Spotify with Oppo, aYo insurance, and Luma legal advice.

Panda wellness app

The Panda wellness app provides support for mental health issues.

“Being able to use a smartphone to find mental health support for issues one may be experiencing, or to discreetly set up a one-on-one session with a professional, is a valuable tool that digital innovations enable,” says says Allan Sweidan, CEO and co-founder of Panda.

Suicide Prevention Week, which ran at the beginning of this month, highlighted the high suicide rate in the South Africa. According to a World Population Review study, SA ranks 10th in global suicide rates and, according to the World Health Organisation, men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.

“While our app is for anyone looking for mental health support, fewer men seek assistance,” says Sweidan.

Men and women differ in communicating their feelings and finding healthy ways to deal with the mental health-related challenges they face. For men, the expectation is all too often that being “emotional” or seeking psychological or psychiatric help is considered “unmanly”. “Boys don’t cry” is a phrase taught from a young age, and those who do are often teased or bullied.

Addressing the realities fced in South Africa, and the consequences culminating in the rate of suicide, requires a multi-faceted approach. Sweidan says that using the digital tools that are increasingly at our disposal is a significant part of this approach.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Search for “Join Panda” in any of the app stores to get started.

SubjeX digital education platform

SubjeX, a digital educational platform, has partnered with Vuma to provide free access to an online RedHill School MasterClass series for over 200 high schools. The project connects registered primary and high schools to the Internet through Vuma’s 1Gbps fibre connection.

Subjex caters to the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and Department of Basic Education (DBE) curricula by offering 14 IEB subjects and eight core DBE subjects. In addition, each topic contains lessons that learners can access online via a computer or smartphone.

“Previously we’ve encountered challenges where learners couldn’t access the platform’s full capabilities because of a lack of fibre connectivity or an unstable network connection,” says Marina Appelbaum, head of SubjeX. “However, through the partnership, more learners will be able to properly prepare for this year’s exams.” 

Stockists: Visit the SubjeX website here for more information.

Spotify with Oppo

Oppo has partnered with Spotify to create a customisable music experience through Oppo’s ColorOS 13 Android operating system.

It allows users to listen to music, podcasts and audiobooks with easier access and better control over the Spotify app.

Some of the features include:

  • Smart always-on-display (AOD):The AOD gives Spotify listeners new ways to keep their music, podcasts and audiobooks at their fingertips. Users can now know what content is currently playing by glancing at the AOD and selecting the music control panel, without activating the device.
  • Shelf feature: The Shelf feature in ColorOS 13 includes a built-in Spotify card containing content recommendations, through which users have access to their music on the app.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download but music and podcasts will cost per download

Stockist: Visit the Spotify site here for more information

aYo insurance

Chatbots have moved from being a nice-to-have to a necessity for insurance companies that are looking for new ways to optimise their costs and boost revenue. 

Consumers are tech savvy when it comes to finding the most price-competitive offers, and insurance is a good example. Some user validation processes can take up to half an hour via a call centre but, using an “asynchronous channel” – meaning it does not require live interaction, as with WhatsApp, means customers can complete the process in their own time usually with far more success. 

To this end, Clickatell has partnered with African insurtech and MTN subsidiary aYo Holdings, which has launched a WhatsApp channel across Africa. The new chat channel allows aYo customers to submit documents as part of the claims process, as well as access content like FAQs, videos, voice notes, and brochures, all through WhatsApp.

Stockists: Click here to find out more about aYo insurance

Luma legal advice

Three years ago Grace Gichanga was working weekends to provide legal help to 50 people. Thanks to business advice, Luma grew into an organisation that helps 1,000 South Africans a month – free of charge. 

Through machine learning and language processing, Luma breaks down issues between South Africans and the laws that protect them. Its team of experts provides free legal assistance, with additional consultations starting at R5, via Facebook Messenger. 

Luma will also be rolled out on WhatsApp, Telegram and Twitter.

Platform: Most computers with an up-to-date Internet browser

Expect to pay: Telephonic consults cost R5 and settlements will cost up to R2,500

Stockists: Visit the Luma website here for more information.

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