Wearables changing our understanding of mental health disorders

A new European research consortium is looking to revolutionize mental health care by developing low-cost mobile, wearable and personalized self-help solutions.

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People can experience different types of mental health disorders. From anxiety and panic attacks to bipolar disorder, depression and eating disorders, these problems can affect your thinking, mood, and behavior.

To combat affective health disorders, a coalition of scientists from around the world have launched the AffecTech project. In the next four years, this will look into developing new technologies that will empower people to better understand their emotions and deal with them on a daily basis. With some 4.88 million euros in funding, the European based research project kicked off this month.

“Affective disorders, such as stress, depression and bipolar conditions, are estimated to be among the highest ranking causes of disease by 2020,” says project lead Lancaster University’s Professor Corina Sas.

“The potential social impact of wearable health devices for these disorders is vast because emotional awareness and regulation are invaluable for daily functioning.”

The research has the potential to deliver huge cost-savings for health services. More than 33 million people are diagnosed with affective health disorders, with annual healthcare costs amounting to well over 100 billion euros.

“Our project marks a significant shift from current wearable technologies that capture emotional responses that then need interpreting by health professionals, to low-cost self-help technologies for visualising, exploring and regulating emotions that people may be able to use in their daily lives,” Sas added.

The ultimate goal here is to develop low cost wearable technologies that people will be able to use on a day to day basis without the need of health professionals. The project also serves to shine a light on the stigma surrounding these complex issues.

To learn more, head over to the AffecTech website.

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