Monday, 27 December 2010

Applications to support the "Happiness Index"?

2gether, the NHS Foundation Trust for Gloucestershire, is making use of mobile technology to promote mental wellbeing in the County.  Developed by smartphone applications developer Mubaloo, the "Moodometer" allows people to register how they feel throughout the day, via their iphones, ipads and ipods. This then provides users and their doctors with a diary of their emotional state, helping to identify any patterns to their moods.

The app is available to download for free via itunes and 1,400 people have already done so in the few weeks since it's launch. As well as being able to track user's moods, the Moodometer is location based, so users can see how others are feeling in the area. It also provides hints and tips on staying upbeat.

It's a great idea and as uptake increases, it will be interesting to see what picture it paints of the mental state of the residents of Gloucestershire. We published an article back in October, discussing research into using Social Media apps to deliver Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it's good to see a similar project in action. A Social Media version of the Moodometer would perhaps be  useful next step, broadening the reach beyond those who own the current platforms by which it's delivered.

If the project as whole proves to be successful, it could also be of use on a national scale. Following the lead of the international community, the Coalition Government recently announced it's intention to measure the Country's mood next year. This "Happiness Index" will look to gauge the well-being of the Nation, going beyond the usual economic measures of a country's success.  The Office for National Statistics is responsible for developing the project and is currently in consultation on how it would best be delivered.

A traditional, national survey will almost certainly be the  main method employed, but innovations, such as the Moodometer, could augment this with deeper insights and a fuller picture. The UK has an ever growing relationship with technology, which continues to offer new opportunities for engagement worth considering.

Should the localism that's prevalent in Government thinking at the moment also stretch to the running of this initiative, then regional organisations, such as 2gether, may be best placed to gain the required insight into their communities. To obtain a truly meaningful measure of how the population feels, fuller engagement than a paper survey provides will be needed. Local bodies know their communities best and already have an established relationship, with the corresponding channels of communications to attain engagement.

These channels can be complimented by sharing local research and developments, like the Moodometer. A central pool of resources, the required metrics set by Government, then the actual delivery handled by local organisations.

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