It is often argued, both among researchers and in popular media, that technology leads to more stress and thus constitutes a mental health risk in society. At the same time, we see how people increasingly turn to technology to handle stress and negative emotions in various ways. A large industry is emerging around the development of services and hardware intended to support mental health wellness, including quantified self, virtual reality technologies, meditation and tracking apps, etc. The rapid development of mobile technologies and mobile internet presents a range of challenges, but also important opportunities for individuals suffering from mental health issues as well as healthcare professionals working with treatment, and technology developers creating products. These same opportunities can offer significant support to researchers interested in understanding people’s behaviour in relation to mental health wellness. As the popularity of digitally mediated therapy and training increases, significant questions emerge.
In this one-day symposium, we focus on the connection between mental health and information technologies, exploring connections between research and practice within this domain. The symposium is organized by the LETStudio at the University of Gothenburg. We invite researchers and practitioners to gather our efforts within this area, focusing on the opportunities that emerging technologies entail for mental health and wellbeing. The symposium consists of two invited speakers, who will tell us about their experience connected to this theme. A few student projects will be presented as well, as inspiration for our discussions. Finally, we will hold a panel discussion addressing the connection between research and practice, and the implementation and dissemination of technological tools for increased mental health. We will end by a short meditation session before
The symposium takes place at Hotel 11 at Eriksberg in Göteborg, Sweden. The event including meals is free of charge, financed by the LETStudio. Participants need to sign up using this link to attend.
The virtual reality (VR) field for mental health has been dominated over the last decade by exposure based treatments for phobias and PTSD. However, new advances in VR offer psychologists a unique opportunity to understand and address the notion of the “Self”. Through the phenomena of presence and avatar embodiment, VR users have a sense of being present in the virtual world and have self-identification with and agency over their avatars. Exploiting and manipulating these phenomena can provide us with insight into the construction of the Self and its multiple aspects, as well as providing a means of interacting with the self to bring about healthy change.
I will outline current trends within the field of VR and I will present findings from my own work that go beyond exposure based paradigms to demonstrate the potential for VR to inculcate positive, affiliative emotions conducive to mental health in depression. Furthermore, I will discuss ongoing work that implements VR software alongside therapy within a healthcare setting for young people with depression and anxiety and for personality disorders. I will share insights into issues of implementation from these studies and discuss the future direction of the field.
Per Carlbring http://www.carlbring.se/ Professor Per Carlbring is a licensed psychologist and psychotherapist as well as a board certified specialist in clinical psychology. He is the leader of the clinical psychology research group at Stockholm University. His main research focus is effectiveness and efficacy of Internet interventions for depression, social anxiety disorder and pathological gambling. Moreover, he is developing and investigating the effects of a real-time behavioural tracking system aimed at early detection of hazardous gambling and prevention of problematic or pathological gambling. A recent interest is side effects, or adverse events, in psychotherapy.
· Pål Dobrin, owner Empaticus AB. Develops apps for mental training and meditation. Has a large international network of academic collaborators who work with IT support for mental health training and compassion-focused therapy. Will be leading meditation session during the symposium.
Caroline Falconer is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, U.K. She works in a multidisciplinary team called MindTech, whose aim is to conceptualise, design and evaluate digital health interventions for areas of unmet need in mental health. Her speciality is working with a variety of virtual reality mediums to adjunct traditional mental health therapies. Her interests in virtual reality span from mechanistic basic science through to up-take and implementation in healthcare services. The latter part of this requires collaborations with industry, service users and relevant healthcare stakeholders. Keynote speaker and panelist. Keynote title: Embodying Mental Health: virtual reality paradigms for mental health and wellbeing.
Marie Kivi, University of Gothenburg.
Peter Ljungstrand, Interactive Institute.
Thomas Hillman is assistant professor of information technology and learning at the
University of Gothenburg. His research investigates tool mediated learning in a wide variety
in contexts with a particular interest in the ways people reconfigure technologies as part of
epistemic practices. He has contributed to leading publications across disciplines including
Learning Sciences, HCI and Health Sciences. Thomas is currently involved in a project
exploring the possibilities of digital technologies as tools for learning mental health wellness.
Organizer of the symposium.
Alexandra Weilenmann, is associate professor in applied information technology at the
University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her research is concerned with the use of mobile
communication and information technologies, focusing on how these technologies are
brought into play as part of everyday activities. She has studied mobile technology use
among many user groups, including hunters, journalists, airport personnel, professional
drivers, teenagers and museum visitors. Recent work deals with the use of mobile
technology in the mental health domain, with a particular focus on mindfulness and
Organizer of the symposium.
Christoffer Holmberg, Department of Food and Nutrition and Sport Science. Obese adolescents' experiences of using digital media for health information and everyday relations. (Ongoing research project.)
Beata Jungselius, Department of Applied IT, LETStudio. Pokémon GO and Mobile Wellbeing: Initial Observations on Experiences and Reported Connections. (Accepted Workshop paper)
Lu Cao, Department of Applied IT (Submitted short paper). Mindfulness in HCI: A Grounded Theory Literature Review