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Can an app improve mental wellbeing?

Research sug­gests that over a quar­ter of peo­ple will suf­fer with a men­tal health prob­lem at some point in their lives and pret­ty soon these peo­ple could be access­ing an app rather than under­go­ing ther­a­py.

The team behind social game Super­Bet­ter claim they can now heal your mind, and with the launch of the app just around the cor­ner, could peo­ple with men­tal health issues real­ly be reach­ing for their smart­phone to access an app, rather than call the doc­tor?

Re-focus­ing the Offer

The deci­sion to re-nose the focus of Super­Bet­ter and aim it at men­tal health coin­cides neat­ly with the afore­men­tioned app launch, but also with the start of clin­i­cal tri­als designed to show how Super­Bet­ter can strength­en men­tal resilien­cy and help users com­bat stress, anx­i­ety and depres­sion. The deci­sion to refo­cus the offer was based on feed­back from the 125K exist­ing users.

Super­Bet­ter cur­rent­ly offers play­ers the chance to make a game out of life’s chal­lenges, which include any­thing from house­work to divorce. Play­ers can turn these oner­ous tasks into games that they can over­come with the help of anony­mous allies and friends. So far, the most user engage­ment has been with those aspects of the game that deal with stress and pain man­age­ment and these areas also have the high­est num­ber of ‘epic wins’.

The Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Soci­ety sug­gests that shar­ing prob­lems with fam­i­ly and friends is a great way to low­er stress and CEO John Solomon believes the Super­Bet­ter app will help.

“This is a tool to help peo­ple low­er stress and be hap­pi­er and more pro­duc­tive,” said Solomon. “It’s about per­spec­tive change.”

Will Clin­i­cal Tri­als Sup­port the The­o­ry?

Solomon and his team are undoubt­ed­ly hop­ing the clin­i­cal tri­als being con­duct­ed by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia will help show Super­Bet­ter has mer­it and dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from sim­i­lar prod­ucts such as Ever­est and Lift. The tri­als will be ran­dom in nature and will only include new play­ers who dis­play mild depres­sive symp­toms. The tri­als, which start this month, will involve around 100 par­tic­i­pants who will be asked to engage with dif­fer­ent types of con­tent based on cog­ni­tive behav­iour ther­a­py and oth­er tried and test­ed treat­ments.

In con­duct­ing rig­or­ous clin­i­cal tri­als Super­Bet­ter is clear­ly try­ing to gain cred­i­bil­i­ty for a prod­uct that many will still see as just a game, but the poten­tial for games and inter­ac­tive dig­i­tal con­tent to actu­al­ly change behav­iours and mind frames is still untapped. The com­pa­ny is hop­ing to part­ner with hos­pi­tals and men­tal health organ­i­sa­tions going for­ward as part of its dis­tri­b­u­tion strat­e­gy and may even offer the app as part of an employ­ee care pack­age if employ­ers can be per­suad­ed of its mer­it. Accord­ing to Super­Bet­ter Labs the devel­op­ment of an Android app is cur­rent­ly under con­sid­er­a­tion.

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