Take a look at the latest innovations designed to improve our mental health and wellbeing
Every 10th October is World Mental Health Day. Recognised by the World Health Organization, this day of awareness provides an opportunity to talk about mental health in general, and the need to look after and talk about it. The theme this year was to ‘Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority.’
World Mental Health Day plays an important role in raising awareness, but it is vital that mental health and well-being is considered throughout the year. 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. And 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 well-being.
The world is facing an epidemic of anxiety. German startup Sympatient highlights that over 330 million people suffer from serious anxiety disorders around the world. And research shows that there is a major global treatment gap for this type of illness, with only a fraction of patients receiving the care they need. Sympatient is on a mission to close this gap. The company has developed the Inverto therapy – an at-home treatment programme that combines app-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with virtual reality exposure therapy. Acknowledging the importance a ‘blended’ approach, Sympatient encourages healthcare professionals to integrate Inverto into their practices by offering tailored education programmes that cater to different categories of medical professional. Read more.
Technology is increasingly helping clinicians specialising in mental health care make the most of the time they have with patients, allowing them to prioritise face-to-face engagment during an appointment rather than filling out forms and completing standardised tests. Now, healthcare startup Thymia is using smart video games based on neuropsychology to monitor speech patterns, facial expressions, and response times. These measurements form the basis of an initial, online, artificial intelligence (AI) powered assessment. fter the assessment, patients meet with clinicians to complete a diagnosis and create a care plan. Read more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This article was first published 26/01/2022 and updated in October 2022
26th January 2022