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Digital platforms bring new vision to mental health care

New online technologies are changing the mental health care landscape with a range of apps and web-based tools to help people better manage their mental health and wellbeing.

Project Synergy and InnoWell

With 99% of young people aged 16-25 years in Australia being active online and with 60% seeking information about mental health on the internet1 it became clear to the Youth Mental Health and Technology team at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre that they needed to develop a digital mental health platform which would not only engage young people but help them improve their mental health  and wellbeing.

Working under a series of research trials known as Project Synergy, the team are currently developing the InnoWell Platform through a joint venture between the University of Sydney and PwC Australia. The Platform can be tailored to the unique needs of each individual young person and is then collaboratively managed by the person seeking care and their clinician.

Using the InnoWell Platform, young people can complete real-time questionnaires and view their results immediately. They can monitor their ongoing progress, and in collaboration with their clinician, can choose treatment options tailored to their unique needs, ensuring they receive the right care at the right time.

“We want to complement existing mental health interventions by offering support to people wherever they are – when they need help the most,” said Co-Director of the University’s Brain and Mind Centre, Professor Hickie who is also the Scientific Advisor leading Project Synergy.

“Our vision is to transform the mental health landscape, filling a critical need in terms of access and engagement through a scalable digital platform to help improve peoples’ mental health and wellbeing.”

For more information, go to: https://www.innowell.org/

To watch a short video on the InnoWell Platform, go to: https://vimeo.com/321655380

 

An app that gauges mood

Meanwhile, UNSW researchers have launched the Emotional Brain Study app that helps to track an individual’s moods and emotions. It is hoped the app will lead to better management of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

The app was developed following research by Dr Susanne Schweizer from UNSW’s School of Psychology who showed that being influenced by emotional stimuli during a series of memory and attention-based tasks can reveal a person’s capacity for psychological resilience.

Users are first asked basic questions and are then presented with five different games that measure their capacity to perform cognitive tasks while being presented with images designed to evoke emotional responses. In a second round, users perform the same tasks but with neutral imagery.

“In the lab, performance on these types of tasks differentiates between individuals who are psychologically healthy and those with a wide range of mental health problems including disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia,” says Dr Schweizer.

“What we’re really interested in is to confirm that what we’ve observed in the lab will also be replicated in the world at large as people play the games in this app.”

“If we are able to show these patterns in a large-scale dataset, we can potentially use these types of tasks to detect early signs of low mood in a non-stigmatising and fun way,” said Dr Schweizer.

Click here to find out more about the Emotional brain study 

References:

  1. Burns JM, Davenport TA, Christense H, et al. Game on: exploring the impact of technologies on young men’s mental health and wellbeing. Findings from the first Young and Well National Survey. Jelbourne: Young and WEll Cooperative research Centre, 2013. https://cdn.movember.com/uploads/files/Our%20Work/game-on-movember-foundation.pdf
  2. Dr Schweizer’s is quoted courtesy of UNSW, Sydney Newsroom: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/health/overcoming-stigma-world-mental-health-day