AKU Student Me​ntal Health Hackathon – Innovative Thinking for Good Mental Health!

Hosted by the Brain and Mind Institute, CCIT and Student Affairs and Services, the AKU Student Mental Health Hackathon set out to achieve Student-Centred, Student-Led Learning, Design, and Innovation for Student Mental Health.

AKU’s student population involves an unparalleled collection of undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate learners who are facing some of the most challenging circumstances to be found anywhere in the world.  Yet, the opportunities for student-led learning across academic program and campuses in six countries are few.  The hackathon offered an unprecedented and truly unique forum for coming together to think creatively about the forces shaping mental health and the design of solutions that can make a positive difference for students – and, importantly, for students, trainees and medical residents who will become the expert providers of health care and education for people everywhere.

The Student Mental Health Hackathon took place as a virtual, multi-day event for AKU students, trainees and medical residents from Africa, Asia and Europe.  The event invited participation from other universities and partners, mental health professionals, innovation and entrepreneurship professionals, and champions of student experience.  The objective was to share ideas and solve problems that are pertinent to student mental health and wellbeing. 

The Hackathon invited teams to model their solutions within an Integrated Mental Health Framework, currently being championed for adoption AKU-wide by the Brain and Mind Institute.


About 300 students engaged in the event, roughly 10% of AKU’s student population.  Ten teams achieved eligibility for presenting their proposed innovations to a panel of judges, with the members of the three tops teams all winning ipads! Seven teams will have opportunity to present their ideas to the Brain and Mind Institute’s Implementation Science Team.

In addition to the formal competition, a “sandbox” component of the event invited students to play with a wide variety of ideas to support student mental health.

Sample quotes from student participants:

"We were not only in a competition, but in a learning space" 

"This is something I never thought I could do at Med School"

"This has been a life-changing experience"​​​