5 Northern firms bringing tech to mental health

Alistair Hardaker's picture
by Alistair Hardaker

The trend for better mental health and wellbeing had begun to take root before the pandemic, with meditation and mindfulness well understood in both personal and professional lives.

But the pandemic has accelerated the need for accessible tools to help manage the emotional rollercoaster.

UK Charity The Mental Health Foundation reports that more than half of people are still anxious and worried about the pandemic nearly a year after it began.

During ‘Wave 1’ in mid-March of 2020, it reported that 62% of adults it surveyed in the UK reported feeling anxious or worried.

More recently those figures have reduced, but still include the majority of the adult population.

‘Wave 9’, which the foundation defines as the end of 2020, shows 54% of the adult UK population said they had felt anxious or worried in the previous two weeks because of the pandemic.

While not the only way to improve mental health, apps and software in the industry are seeing a boom.

A Market Data Forecast report puts the size of the global behaviour and mental health software market at $1.36 billion in 2020, and forecasts it to reach $2.6bn by 2025.

Here are five firms in the North which are part of this growing and necessary market.

Discova - Newcastle

Newcastle-based mental health and wellness platform Disova (formerly known as Myndr) was established by entrepreneurs Lizzy Hodcroft and Emma Reilly in 2018.

Its AI-powered mental health, wellbeing and resilience app is designed to provide personalised, evidence-based self-help interventions and action plans for the most common mental health and wellbeing problems.

The app is currently accessed via the web, but an iOS and Android app is expected in the summer of this year.

Last year the company, now 10 strong, won £300k packing from Innovate UK last year, and is one of 20 finalists in Tech Nation’s Rising Stars 3.0 competition.

My Possible Self - Harrogate

The My Possible Self app offers tools and techniques to better understand mood, notice patterns in behaviour, become more self-aware with the goal of improving overall wellbeing.

Included in the app are modules which use established forms of therapy including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), problem solving therapy, positive psychology and interpersonal therapy.

Founded by Joanne Wilkinson in 2009, the Yorkshire-based company now includes Wilkinson’s daughters Hana and Fleur.

In 2019 it was commissioned by the NHS to combat poor mental health in London and last year, at the start of the pandemic, announced that it would go free to help combat stress.

My Healthy Advantage - Manchester

From Manchseter-based independent health and wellbeing provider Health Assured comes their app My Healthy Advantage, which offers additional health and wellbeing services to clients including ASOS, Siemens and Deloitte.

The app, designed by Manchester developer Degree53, includes physical and emotional health support, four week wellbeing challenges and a weekly mood tracker.

Moodbeam - Hull

Launched in 2016, Hull’s Moodbeam began life as a wearable bracelet to track changes in emotion.

It expanded first from a design targeted at school-children to one which could be used by adult workforces and the entire population.

Now the company is focussed on aggregating the emotional data from these devices and its accompanying app into a dashboard for employees, and told Prolific North last month of its plans to grow further, becoming a global ‘happiness score’.

The Mind Map - Liverpool

Founded in 2017, The Mind Map’s digital platform bills itself as “one stop shop” for mental health, created following a research project carried out by the company, mental health organisations and academics from Liverpool John Moores University, Imperial College London and the NHS.

The company, which last year provided online mental health training courses for eBay.

In addition to offering mental health support, it aims to normalise mental health through engaging advice and articles which include interviews with well-known actors, writers, and academic experts.

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