In times of increased stress and uncertainty, many people are looking for advice and guidance to feel better. There are currently hundreds of thousands of health apps available to download, but the quality varies and the huge range makes it difficult to find the right one. Region Stockholm, together with RISE, is now developing a digital platform for promoting mental health and well-being to guide young people in the right direction through the online health jungle.
Although society’s efforts to combat mental illness are often focused on the treatment of symptoms, within healthcare it is becoming increasingly clear that greater focus must also be given to prevention and health promotion.
– “Investing in well-being and mental health can improve the quality of life of people and reduce costs for society,” says Camilla Evensson, Project Manager at RISE. “That’s why we have partnered up with Region Stockholm to work with municipalities, civil society, academia and the business community to promote mental health.”
The work involved with the digital platform, which is geared towards young people, is based on the World Health Organization’s definition of mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.
Quality assured services that produce an effect
In concrete terms, the project involves creating a digital platform that compiles content from different operators and which is quality assured and easy to navigate. Everything from non-profit organisations to for-profit companies can contribute content. The important thing is that the services linked to through the platform are quality assured and live up to established goals. Even though digital services are part of everyday life for the target group (ages 16 to 25), many still find it difficult to navigate the huge range of digital services.
– “When we examined the market, we discovered that there are almost 400,000 health apps online, but it is very difficult for the user to determine which ones are good, and which ones meet the specific needs they have,” explains Evensson. “Based on this, we have developed a prototype that will serve as a personal guide to find the support you need to be able to promote your mental health and well-being.”
Well-being is not easy to put into words
The goal has been to develop a platform that guides users – both to information and quality assured digital services with a proven effect. A number of operators have been invited to participate in the platform and those ultimately selected must fulfil certain quality criteria.
The platform, under the working title Looop, will be accessible through a website and as an app. When logging into the app, you are greeted by an inspirational feed, an overview of the app range, and a personal profile page. By clicking the ‘Self-esteem’ icon, for example, you will be shown a range of apps and services that promote self-esteem.
AI can find the right path
Content on the platform is quality assured by a team of experts comprising professors in the fields of both clinical and public health. RISE has contributed to the development of the platform through various forms of expertise – everything from technical architecture to design, metrological knowledge, and innovation management. Different individuals have different needs and the goal therefore is to guide visitors to the platform correctly by asking them a few questions. In this part, RISE helps AI researchers to further tailor the platform in a way that does not compromise data security and privacy of users.
– “Another important aspect involves impact measurement, i.e. gauging outcomes of the different services,” says Evensson. “Well-being is not easy to put into words, so to really understand the effect of different interventions, it is important to use the right measurements and measure the right things.”
For the platform to reach the intended target group, the vision is for the platform to be used in schools, both with regard to student health and in educational activities.