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Marketing

Published April 27th 2018

How Technology is Breaking Down Barriers Around Mental Health

Brandwatch interviews the founders of the Bounce app, which helps users improve their mental resilience and reduce stress and anxiety, on how technology can be used for the good of people's mental health.

Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.  It’s a huge issue that’s often clouded in stigma and misinformation but technology is providing new avenues for people to explore and discuss their mental health.

We interviewed Christopher Weeks and Alastair Byrne from Brighton-based company ‘Bounce’ about the work they’re doing, how technology can help people improve their mental health and findings from both Bounce and Brandwatch data.

Bounce provides people with a free chatbot that operates much like a personal coach. It helps users improve their mental resilience and reduce stress and anxiety by suggesting quick exercises that can be fit around a busy schedule. Their exercises are based on scientific research and take a preventative approach to mental health problems.

Many people don’t do anything for their mental health until it’s too late. Bounce wants to change that by taking a different approach, based around prevention. We believe that resilience is a skill that anyone can improve, and the more resilient you are, the better you’ll be able to bounce back from tough times.

Alastair Byrne – Co-founder and CTO of Bounce

The ways technology has opened up conversations

We discuss the interesting ways that mental health is treated online. While too much time spent on social media can obviously have negative affects, Christopher points out the ways in which supportive communities have been built around particular symptoms or diagnoses. While someone might not immediately introduce themselves as someone who suffers from bipolar, it might be front and centre in their Twitter bio. In other forums, meanwhile, anonymity can provide a place where those who are affected by the stigmas around mental health can discuss their experiences freely.

Brandwatch were particularly keen to speak with Bounce for two reasons. Firstly, our staff have been trialling Bounce’s chatbot recently and we were keen to find out more. Secondly, we wanted to know what Bounce had found interesting in our own recent Mental Health Study, conducted by our Strategy and Insights team in partnership Ditch the Label, that looked at public conversations around related issues.

(Note: Brandwatch’s Strategy & Insights team delivers actionable insights for clients to help make strategic decisions with social data. They are based in Brighton, Berlin and New York and also offer consultancy for clients to help regardless of where they sit on the social maturity curve.)

As our study found, online channels act as a supplement to offline treatment:

”Authors who accessed treatment were more likely to share and seek advice online. Among those experiencing body dysmorphia, online sharing was the second most-mentioned treatment (10%) behind therapy (12%)”

The Brandwatch report is a great example of how data can be used to provide us with insight around mental wellbeing. It increases our understanding about people that suffer from mental ill-health, and helps us to create new ways to support them.

Christopher Weeks – Co-founder and CEO of Bounce

Technology as a tool to improve men’s mental health

For a number of reasons, men tend to be harder to reach by groups looking to improve mental health.

Suicide rates are particularly high among men, while men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women.

Brandwatch’s online Mental Health Study found that men were also most likely to use pejorative terms relating to mental health. Use of these terms were particularly prevalent among gaming and sports fans.

Findings such as these are particularly pertinent because negative attitudes towards mental health may prevent those experiencing symptoms from accessing treatment, and also because the Bounce app may be more accessible for people from groups who don’t tend to seek help

Peter Fairfax, Senior Research Analyst at Brandwatch

Bounce had surprised us by saying that they have more male than female users (currently 55% male and 45% female). Perhaps this more anonymous style of wellbeing practice is a key way to engage men with mental health issues which are elsewhere shrouded by stigma.

Detecting warning signs and getting people the help they need

Bounce’s focus on preventative measures that help build mental resilience may work great for many, but the chatbot is not yet equipped to deal with people who are suffering from more severe symptoms.

Christopher tells us that detecting warning signs and working to connect sufferers with the help they need in a sensitive and effective way is a top priority for the company going forwards.

Ensuring that people find the right kind of treatment for their symptoms is incredibly important. As Brandwatch found in our own study, for those who do not access treatment, symptoms escalated at a faster rate: 

“Among those without treatment, tone grew more severely negative over time, highlighting need for early access to treatment.”

You can find out more about Bounce here.

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.