Last year, the whole world was plunged into an era of uncertainty. We didn’t know when we would see our loved ones, when we would return to work, or when we could start to travel once again. Most importantly, however, there was one thing in particular that many of us did not know how to do. We did not know how to look after our mental health while it seemed like the world was on lockdown.
For a long time, mental health has been an elusive topic. For many around the world, mental health is still an unknown and unquantifiable phenomenon. In the last year, however, things have started to change. Despite the challenges created by Covid, the pandemic has undoubtedly increased the self-awareness that we possess for changes in our mental health.
We all went on our own unique mental health journeys during this time. Many of us felt lonely; some of us were anxious for the first time amid the uncertainty of life. While others among us felt down when we couldn’t live out our daily routines.
Studies have even shown that in certain places, the pandemic was directly responsible for significant increases in online searches concerning mental health topics.
The lesson that Covid teaches us about mental health
While this seems like an undesirable consequence of an unfortunate global event, it may also teach us a valuable lesson: a lesson in self-management.
For those of us that now know what our mental health challenges look like, we are better at identifying them. The better we are at identifying them, the more able we are to track and monitor them over time. By tracking our mental health experiences, we can understand what triggers our feelings of distress. The better we know our triggers, the easier it is to take action that helps us deal with them.
This very idea fascinated me. If we can self-monitor our ups and downs, we can learn what things are bad for our mental health, and what things are good for uplifting it. Alongside a fantastic team of people motivated to help others get through these difficult times, I co-founded uMore, an AI-powered mental health measurement and monitoring app. Since the early days of the pandemic, we have been working to combine science, technology, and design to build the uMore app to help everyone measure and track the progress of their mental well-being.
What is special about uMore?
uMore is an app that helps you measure and monitor your mental health. It works in three ways:
- You answer some questions about how you are feeling. You are given a score that shows your self-perceived level of stress, anxiety, and depression.
- You are shown charts that display the changes to your mental health experiences over time; both the ups and the downs.
- You are given access to a library of self-care activities that are evidence-based and designed to help you uplift your mental well-being.
Together, these three features give uMore users a sense of understanding and control when it comes to their mental health. Additionally, we have created a database of international helplines that can be contacted at any time users experience distress and want to talk to someone about it.
What uMore offers that other apps don’t
Apps like Calm and Headspace are focused on helping people feel comforted through their relaxing content. uMore focuses on the measurement and tracking experience. uMore helps users understand how they are feeling and introduces users to the self-care techniques that help them feel better.
- uMore provides users with a personalised score to help them understand their level of well-being.
- uMore keeps a record of how you felt on the days that you used it. You can look back at it any time.
- uMore doesn’t just offer you meditation. It provides a wide range of self-care activities.
uMore is designed to help users measure their self-perceived levels of mental health experiences. It is not designed to provide a diagnosis or to replace the role of a medical professional. If you feel your mental health is in need of or could benefit from the help of a clinician, you should contact your local healthcare centre.
How has uMore helped its users so far?
In an impact report published on the uMore website, we have seen that uMore users are benefiting from the self-care activities and tracking features. Initial user feedback from the first self-care activities revealed that the self-care activities have proved helpful to:
- Help uMore users to identify stress
- Better understand how uMore users feel
- Support uMore users to manage their stress response
Overall, users who engage more frequently with activities are less prone to exhibit high-stress levels. Alongside these early results, uMore is also conducting ongoing clinical research efforts.
What to expect from the uMore app?
uMore will continue to improve its mental health measurement and tracking features. In the near future, uMore will be:
- Creating many more self-care activities to the app
- Providing deeper insights into how users feel, through analysis of their questionnaire responses
- Releasing a feature that allows users to help monitor the mental health of their loved ones, through our Safe Circle
How to download uMore
Alejandro Serrano Saunders is the chief scientific officer at uMore