Are you happy?

The 2gether NHS Trust –  or to be precise, the Gloucestershire branch of it – has just launched a new smartphone app which enables you to monitor your mood and gives you tips and advice on how to make yourself feel ‘happier’. Great to see that the NHS are finally being proactive when it comes to embracing more ‘current’ communication methods!

The interface is really simple – select an emoticon that reflects your mood. From this point you are given tips on how to maintain your good feeling, or how to feel better if you have been low. There is also a map  which shows you how happy people are around you. However, as this app was obviously created for a different part of the country than the one I live in, and therefore (hopefully) is promoted regionally as opposed to nationwide, it seems that I am the only person in Yorkshire so far using it!

The users can see a graph of their moods over a period of time, and are prompted to seek advice if they are consistently ‘unhappy’. They are either linked into a supporting website which is rich in information on mental well-being, or are given contact details of places within the area where they can go to seek help. Really simple but a great way to get advice out to the people who need it (depending on if they have the app and have heard of it in the first place, of course!)

There is a supporting YouTube channel which has the makings of a great advice centre, however, with only 4 subscibers and 11 uploads over the last year, there is still some way to go with making this happen. Nice to see them linking to it from the app though. The Twitter account and Facebook page seem a little more active, but are yet to attract many followers.

All of this ties in with the current Governments focus on measuring how ‘happy’ the country is and trying to do something about the high rates of depression and stress we are facing. Nice idea. I also like the way that they have ‘layered’ the information. You see short but relevant tips from the start, but are prompted to dig into the supporting material on the website when required. I think it’s really important not to overface people with too much content and complexity, but rather to allow them to either discover it as they become more confident, or to lead them to it gently when the need occurs.

Despite the obvious teething problems with the app, I look forward to the NHS Trust building on the concept and perhaps investing in a nationwide roll-out which offers the regionally specific information which at the moment is only available for Gloucestershire. It would also be great to see them invest some time and money in their online presence, and make sure that all the effort of developing the app does not go to waste by not promoting it either on their website or on other relevant sites which are going to attract the right people.

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