Mobile Peer-Mentoring: An Approach to Make Veterans Seek Mental Health-Care Support a Normality

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10th IEEE International Conference on Collaborative Computing: Networking, Applications and Worksharing
Rizwana Rizia1, Nadiyah Johnson1, A. B. M. Kowser Patwary1, Golam Mushih Tanimul Ahsan1, Sheikh Iqbal Ahamed1, Zeno Franco2, Katinka Hooyer3, Bob Curry4, Mark Flower4
1: Marquette University
2: Medical College of Wisconsin
3: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee
4: Dryhootch, Milwaukee

    Veterans often face great difficulties during the community and family reintegration after military deployment. Mental health problems resulting from war related traumatic experiences often make social readjustment very difficult. Many research suggests that peer-mentorship can be very effective for mental-health problems. Dryhootch (DH), a community organization led by veterans, has implemented a veteran peer-mentor program. The primary objective of DH program is to provide peer-mentor support to veterans going through social readjustment. In this paper we propose to expand DH’s paper-based peer-mentor program with a mobile-based system, iPeer. The proposed expansion improves the efficiency of the current DH approach by augmenting the existing social process with mobile technologies used extensively by younger veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. We provide a description of the evolution of this mobile-based peer-mentor support tool through collaborative design research. We also present our initial usability findings in order to demonstrate the improved efficiency offered by the augmented technology.