World Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 is here. The official theme of the week is “loneliness”, which seems particularly relevant given the various negative effects the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have had on people’s mental health. 21% of adults reported some form of depression in early 2021, double the amount before the COVID-19 pandemic.
We wanted to highlight some of the incredible technological advances taking place to help improve mental health by looking at some recent patent filings.
Interactive System For Improved Mental Health
This US patent application (publication number US 2021/0280296) discloses a method for improving a user’s mental health.
Given that 1 in 6 UK workers will experience depression or anxiety at some point in their lives, giving people methods to help deal with these issues when they arise seem particularly important.
It provides a user seeking to manage their mental health with an awareness and support tool which comprises eight core modules: workflow 110 , AI insights 120 , observations 130 , customized content 140 , user insights 150 , professional support 160 , guided exercises 170 , and user community 180. These modules may interact with one another to provide customised, optimum support for a user’s mental health.
The system may receive input from a user regarding a distressing experience they have had, and provides interactive, customized output to the user. The system can also provide guided meditation exercises optimised to help calm the user depending on their particular mental state.
VR Based Therapy
This Chinese patent application (publication number CN 107320836) discloses a kind of VR implemented therapy session.
With the number of people in the UK with mental health issues seeking treatment rising from 23% in 2000 to 37% in 2014, it seems there is real demand for effective treatments for mental health issues.
This patent application provides virtual treatment without needing the presence of a medical professional. Various virtual scenes are generated to create an interactive story for the user. An example given is generating a natural environment to help calm a user.
The system can also customise aspects of the scene such as the colour and weather, which can help in changing a users mood.
System For Generating Recommendations To Alleviate Loneliness
In keeping with the theme of “loneliness”, is a US patent application (publication number US 2018/0075763) which discloses a system for generating personalised recommendations to alleviate loneliness.
The negative effects of loneliness can impact not just a person’s mental health, but their physical health too. Increased loneliness has been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure, dementia, and stroke. Some studies have compared living alone and isolation to being as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
This patent application seeks to alleviate these effects by giving a user personalised recommendations to alleviate loneliness. The system may keep track of a user’s personality via a saved profile. Depending on the user’s personality, the system may recommend volunteer groups a user can call for help, or generate a custom virtual “buddy” to encourage a user to get out and meet people.
Whilst these inventions may not completely resolve mental health issues and their causes, such technologies can play an important role in helping those suffering with mental health issues, as well as help to bring awareness to the prevalence of these issues.
Hopefully this mental health awareness week can bring awareness to the everyday mental health struggles of people in the UK, and encourage people to seek help in whatever form they need.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.