Innovation That Matters

Five innovations to improve mental health

Innovation Snapshot

Take a look at the latest innovations designed to improve our mental health and wellbeing

Well done – you survived ‘Blue Monday’. Considered a PR stunt, and refuted by scientists, this one January day has been billed as the ‘most depressing day of the year’ – a sellable but pseudoscientific concept that has become common in several countries.

In reality, the importance of mental health and wellbeing cannot be isolated to a single day. As the coronavirus pandemic enters its third year, research has highlighted its impact on mental health. According to mental health charity Mind, around a third of adults and young people say that their mental health has got worse since March 2020. An academic meta-study in the Lancet also found that the pandemic has led to lower wellbeing in the general public.

With mental health in the spotlight, Springwise has spotted several innovations that aim to improve wellbeing.

Photo Source: HomeForest

FOREST BATHING RECREATED AT HOME WITH SMART DEVICES

Forest bathing a practice originating in Japan that involves walking in forests while using all of one’s senses. A systematic review of 28 studies carried out on the health effects of the practice found that it could support the recovery of several physical and psychological indicators of human health. A prize-winning project aims to recreate the experience at home, leveraging the benefits of biophilia to aid city-livers with limited access to natural space. The digital toolkit connects mobile and wireless home devices to evoke a variety of sensory experiences, recreating the feeling of a natural environment. Read more.

Photo Source: Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

AI SPEAKER AND APP FOR THOSE LIVING ALONE COULD AID MENTAL HEALTH

In Korea, the proportion of single person households stood at just 15 per cent in the year 2000 but will pass 30 per cent this year and continue rising by over 100,000 households annually in the future. As the number of single-person households increases, loneliness has become a significant concern, with all the associated mental and physical problems. In response, a student at Konkuk University developed an AI speaker that interacts with users through conversation. The speaker is linked to a dedicated app, allowing users to talk to the speaker with their phones in real-time. In addition to reducing loneliness, the device monitors for signs of depression, forwarding the user to talk to a nearby specialist if depression is detected. Read more.

Photo Source: Yves Behar for Opus

VIBROACOUSTIC BED COULD AID MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH

Swiss company Opus has developed a specially-designed bed that produces vibrations and sounds to promote healing and mindfulness. More than a daybed or nap pod, the SoundBed is a wellness experience that combines spatial sound and vibrations to reduce stress and release hormones associated with happiness. Users lie down on the bed, which delivers low-frequency vibrations that are said to improve relaxation and make users more receptive to introspection. SoundBed also connects to a companion app that plays guided meditations designed to help elevate the users’ mood. Read more.

Photo Source: James Dyson Award

LIGHTING PANEL HELPS TO ELEVATE THE ‘WORKING FROM HOME’ MOOD

The pandemic has made it clear that many people around the world live in crowded conditions, without much access to natural light or space. It is well-known that these conditions can contribute to seasonal affective disorder and exacerbate depression. A room divider that changes its lighting to suit the user’s mood could help to change the environment for those working from home. Read more.

MENTAL HEALTH CHATBOT ADDS COVID-SPECIFIC SUPPORT TO ITS APP

Woebot is an emotional support platform that uses the mindfulness exercises and mood regulation of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help users improve their mental health. Free, easily accessible and clinically proven, Woebot uses short conversations to provide support, track patterns in mood and offer recommendations for more targeted care when appropriate. Now, Woebot Lab’s latest offering is a new in-app programme called Perspectives. It was designed explicitly to help individuals work through the emotional and mental health challenges brought on by the global COVID-19 health emergency. Read more.

Words: Matthew Hempstead

Mental health is a complex issue, and those in need of urgent help can find information about the services available on the United for Global Mental Health website.

To keep up with the latest innovations in mental health and beyond, sign up to our free newsletters or email info@springwise.com to get in touch