CoAct wins European Citizen Science Prize

16. Jun 2024

Congrats to Open Systems Barcelona on their award! ZSI is proud to have been part of CoAct from its beginning!

We are thrilled to extend our heartfelt congratulations to our consortium partners at Open Systems Barcelona for their well-deserved prize. We are incredibly proud to have been part of the transformative citizen social science project CoAct, which exemplifies the power of collaboration and community-based approaches in mental health services.

CoAct Chatbot: CoAct Consortium

CoAct for Mental Health was one of 4 research and innovation actions in the project CoAct and is a groundbreaking citizen science initiative that places individuals experiencing mental health challenges and their families at its core. Aligning with the World Health Organization's call for enhanced community-based mental health services, this project emphasizes the vital role of those with lived mental health experiences in driving global change.

The project saw 32 individuals, both those with mental health issues and their family members, step into the role of Co-Researchers to co-create the first-ever citizen science chatbot. The CoActuem per la Salut Mental (CoAct for Mental Health) Telegram Chatbot has disseminated hundreds of micro stories, each detailing personal mental health experiences in various social contexts such as family, friends, work, and neighborhood interactions.

The chatbot's primary goal is to engage a broader audience and gather their feedback. It has successfully facilitated the ongoing collection of responses from hundreds of participants over several years, all within a secure and private environment. Participants contributed to a data collection effort focused on exploring social support networks in mental health, which are crucial for recovery, quality of life improvement, and combating social exclusion.

In-person sessions with Co-Researchers were organized to interpret the chatbot data. During a final assembly with the broader mental health community, 14 recommendations were presented to high-level local and regional officials and published in European and local policy briefs. The project embodies citizen social science, a participatory research approach co-designed and driven by groups with shared social concerns. It integrates social sciences methods, like auto-ethnography, with computational social science techniques, including complex systems and networks theory.

The jury's decision is based on their statement: „CoAct for mental health stood out to us as an excellent example of citizen social science, involving patients with lived experience of mental health issues, and their families (…) These citizen researchers contributed their daily micro-stories to create a body of evidence that aims to shift the paradigm for mental health care away from a biomedical approach towards personalised medicine and a community-centred approach (…) This project allows citizens to play an active role in research that directly impacts their lives and harnesses the power of technology to include marginalised voices as active participants in the transformation of mental health care. (…)“


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Tags: award, citizen science, citizen social science, prize

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