- Part of...Group Therapy: Mental Distress in a Digital Age
- Gallery 1 and Public Spaces
Increasingly we are monitoring and diagnosing our own health and wellbeing through using digital technologies such as apps and online databases. Group Therapy includes a selection of technologies which aim to support our mental health, from the controversial ECT machine to apps collboratively produced with the people who use them.
We Feel, 2014
CSIRO for The Black Dog Institute together with support from Amazon Web Services
We Feel is an experimental research tool that asks; can twitter can give an accurate depiction of society’s emotions? The programme catagorises a range of emotional words from up to 19,000 English tweets per minute into groups such as ‘fear’ ‘sadness’ and ‘surprise’. Researchers are testing the theory that this software might offer a valuable alternative to standard medical data currently used by doctors, which can be up to five years old at the point of use.
Does your twitter account give an accurate description of your emotions?
Commentary on Samaritans Radar app, suspended in November 2014 amid fears over privacy, BBC News, 7 November 2014
This application was designed by the Samaritans to monitor twitter users activity and alert their friends and followers if they used word patterns that indicated they might be feeling suicidal. For many this was a worrying infringement of user’s privacy and a clear sign that digital technology has too much control over our personal data. The application was suspended after just a few weeks of use.
Avatar Therapy for Distressing Voices, (Video by New Scientist, 2014)
Julian Leff and King’s College London
Avatar Therapy is designed to alleviate symptoms of voice hearing, which is thought to affect between 3-10% of the population. The client works with a therapist to create a computer-generated representation of their voice before engaging it in a dialogue designed to overcome their fear of the phenomena and ultimately relieve the symptoms. The project raises interesting questions about how much we identify with technologically generated images as descriptions of our own psyche.
Location: Monitor or iPad
Doc Ready, 2013
Neontribe, Social Spider, Future Gov and Enabled by Design
A web page designed to help young people prepare to talk to their doctor about their mental health. The app allows users to build a list of topics to discuss and to seek advice on topics such as ‘what will happen when I visit the GP?’ and ‘confidentiality’. Developers hope that this tool will help ease young people’s anxiety around seeking medical help for issues such as self-harm, bullying and depression.
Location: Android Phone
Flowy (Beta Version), 2015
Flowy is a game that digitally encourages breathing retraining, the oldest technique known to reduce anxiety and manage panic attacks. Players guide a captain and his ship home using a series of actions that correspond with deep inhalations, encouraging slow and controlled breathing. A clinical pilot trial evaluating the app demonstrated measurable decreases in anxiety, panic and hyperventilation after a 4-week period of use.
Location: Android Phone
Electroconvulsive therapy is the practice of inducing seizures by overwhelming the brain with electric currents, in order to provide relief from mental health issues such as depression. The treatment is highly controversial and involves considerable risk of memory loss and confusion, but is still occasionally used under conditions of conformed consent today. Most popular in 1940s and 1950s, the use of electric currents on the brain has been documented as early as 1785, demonstrating an ongoing human desire to manipulate brain health using technological interventions.
Location: Gallery 1