The conversation around mental health has increased dramatically in the last few years – and that’s certainly a positive step forward. Mental illness is not a new phenomenon, but the stigma surrounding it has meant that for years, many people have shied away from opening up and sharing their concerns and feelings. Slowly but surely the taboo is being broken down and we’re finally opening up to each other.
Whilst this recent progress is a big step forward, there are elements of modern life that put added pressure on our emotional bandwidth and in a hyper-connected world, it can be harder than ever to look after our wellbeing. Technology is often regarded as the enemy of good mental health – thanks to social media comparison, our addiction to scrolling and our inability to switch off. But there are some businesses that are harnessing the power of technology for good and trying to improve access to mental health support through innovation.
One of these projects is Hub of Hope – a national mental health database, established by the Chasing the Stigma charity. Established in 2017, the online database allows users to search for mental health organisations and support groups, in their local area. The free online service uses technology to make the user journey and accessibility as easy as possible.
When you land on the home page you simply have to put in your postcode to generate a list of local services that can help you if you’re struggling. They also have a ‘Nearby Services’ option that uses the location of your device to find support in close proximity to you right at that moment. Aside from your location, the service requires no more information from you, which means not only is it totally anonymous, but you also don’t have to contend with a complicated form in your time of need. Hub of Hope now has 1200 organisations, large and small and from all over the UK, registered on the platform. Over 40,000 people have used the service and the charity hopes to help even more people in the future.
But it’s not just adults that need improved support when it comes to mental health. As 84% of UK teenagers own a smartphone, technology is a great vehicle to reach this often vulnerable age group. Meetwo is a free app that facilitates safe and moderated peer support between teenagers. Users can post questions and messages regarding mental health on to the app, their peers can then reply, offering advice and support. All replies are moderated by trained experts to ensure the conversations remain useful and positive, creating a safe space for teens to discuss difficult topics.
Whilst teenagers are one of the most vulnerable age groups, many people believe that the earlier children are given mental health support, the more effective it can be later in life. One company aiming to help open up the conversation around mental health for an even younger age group is Mind Moose. Mind Moose is a fun interactive game that teaches children about mental wellbeing, managing emotions and how to navigate life ups and downs. The platform can be used by both schools and families, with teachers and parents given access to the child’s virtual ‘back pack’ of learnings. Not only does Mind Moose help children, but it also helps parents and teachers to find an age-appropriate way to discuss difficult topics with the young people in their care.
It’s so exciting to see tech being used in such a positive way, improving access to mental health support at all stages of life. We’d love to hear about more tech companies tackling this important issue.