Good Thinking: Mindwave Ventures’ new online wellbeing platform
Mental health services in the UK are in crisis, but could an innovative startup company provide a cure?
Start-ups are already turning to chatbots, VR and apps to help improve healthcare or revolutionise treatment – but what about mental health?
Figures released by the BBC show that some UK mental health patients are having to wait up to two years for treatment in parts of England. In many parts of the country, more than 20% of patients are having to wait more than 18 weeks for treatment – this is despite government recommendations that the majority of treatments should start within six weeks.
With patients unable to access treatment in a timely manner the crisis is plain to see – but it would be naive to suggest that there is a plainly obvious fix.
What is clear is that innovation is needed – and as before, the tech industry is exploring how.
Mindwave Ventures, a tech-startup based in White City, is taking on the mental health crisis.
It may seem a gargantuan task for a company of just eleven people, but MindWave Ventures is nevertheless committed to developing innovative, flexible digital products that can help in the treatment and management of patient’s mental health.
“There is a lot of opportunities for new apps, websites or digital products, to help encourage people to take their own health or treatment into their own hands,” says Jade Richardson, Junior Designer at Mindwave Ventures.
While some of the projects being developed by Mindwave Ventures are the kind of snazzy, new-age tech we’d expect to see in the health clinics of Silicon Valley – take for example the VR headset designed to aid OCD exposure therapy – other projects are deeply practical, such as the development of online wellbeing platform Good Thinking.
This online digital service’s aim is to direct users to to tools and resources online that could support their wellbeing.
Originally targeting men aged 18-45 with experience of sleep issues, the project has become an inclusive, far-reaching digital service helping Londoners to help themselves with everyday experiences such as stress, loneliness and anxiety.
In the age of the internet, we all google our symptoms, no matter what our healthcare issue may be. Indeed, we even sometimes see our doctors google our symptoms right in front of us in the examination room. There is useful, relevant, health-related content out there in what sometimes seems like the Wild West of the internet. The key is knowing where to look – and Good Thinking could be that place when it comes to mental health care.
“The service aims to find the spaces where people are looking online, and direct them to useful, health-care professional approved content like apps, practical advice and meetups. It would also focus on peer-to-peer support, aiming to safely connect people with others, both online and offline, through forums, meetups and support groups.”
The online platform harnesses all the beauty of the internet – access to a wealth of information, connectivity, and choice; particularly a choice as to when are where they can access treatment.
That is one of Mindwave Venture’s biggest and most important aims – to allow people to take back control of their healthcare, at a time when many are languishing on seemingly endless waiting lists.
This online platform is by no means meant to replace traditional mental health therapies and treatments – but to provide support when patients are outside those spheres, or are unable to access them when they would like.
“Using digital tools mean that you can reach a greater number of people who might need the service… But this is still a tool to support professionals and patients – one-to-one treatment is still important”.
According to Mindwave Ventures the key to their innovation is – perhaps unsurprisingly – always keeping their user in mind. “We always work closely with the potential user to address their needs – their needs take centre stage.” says Jade.
However, their approach to developing new technologies in health-care is even more holistic than that. “We aim to harness new technologies to benefit everyone involved in healthcare – not just patients but doctors, nurses, clinical professionals and NHS trusts.”
It is through this holistic approach that their designs can continue to evolve and help support patients and healthcare professionals, even after they have stepped away from the project. We have long known that looking after our mental health is a long-term, highly individual process – and it is heartening to see this reflected in MindWave Venture’s approach to designing new healthcare technologies.
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