Cfp: International Journal of Human Computer Studies

Special issue: Designing for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing
Guest editors:
David Coyle, Anja Thieme, Conor Linehan, Madeline Balaam, Jayne Wallace & Siân Lindley

Good mental health and emotional wellbeing are fundamental to our quality of life, enabling people to experience life as meaningful, handle daily stresses, work productively, and to have stable and fulfilling relationships. Beyond this direct impact on the individual, the World Health Organisation identifies emotional wellbeing as vital for society as a whole. It is an essential component of peace and stability in the living environment, contributing to social cohesion and the economic development of society. Researchers in mental health and emotional wellbeing are thus faced with two fundamental questions. Firstly, what steps can be taken to maintain, strengthen and nurture positive emotional wellbeing? Secondly, how can we provide more effective support for people who are experiencing mental health difficulties?

A growing body of research suggests that the HCI community – working collaboratively with healthcare researchers – has a valuable role to play in helping to address these challenges. For example, a number of systems have recently been developed specifically to support mental health interventions, including online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy interventions, therapeutic computer games, virtual and augmented reality exposure therapies and relational agents designed to provide emotional support. There is also rapidly growing interest in passive and non-passive techniques to monitor emotional wellbeing and provide information that can increase emotional awareness, support positive behaviour and enable richer expressions of emotional states. Examples include physiological monitoring systems and affective diaries. Empowering and supportive relationships also play a vital role in emotional wellbeing. This raises many intriguing questions about the role and potential of social networking technologies, which the community has begun to address. Researchers have also begun to consider the differing emotional needs of distinct communities, the importance of emotional needs in physical healthcare and wellbeing more generally, and the design of systems that can provide ongoing support for lifelong or chronic conditions, e.g. bipolar disorders, chronic pain.

Research on technologies to support mental health and emotional wellbeing can draw on key themes in HCI research, including cognitive functioning, human memory and reminiscence, social connectedness, behaviour change, designing for reflection and affective computing. However there is a need to provide empirical evidence as to the effectiveness of different systems, approaches and design strategies. This special issue will build on the CHI 2012 workshop on Interaction Design and Emotional Wellbeing and the DIS 2012 workshop on Designing Wellbeing. It will provide a high impact forum in which to consolidate and extend knowledge in this rapidly evolving area. We will welcome high quality, thought provoking and original articles that address issues including, but not limited to:

  • Empirical studies of systems designed to support mental health interventions or emotional wellbeing.
  • Empirical studies of systems that take account of the interconnected nature of physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Studies of systems that target specific populations, e.g. children, adolescents or older adults.
  • Evidence-based, theoretical and conceptual frameworks for understanding and guiding the design of technologies to support emotional wellbeing.
  • Strategies for evaluating technologies that support emotional wellbeing, including specific methods and tools for evaluating/measuring emotional wellbeing.
  • Considerations of ethical requirements and the potentially negative impact of new technologies on mental health and emotional wellbeing, and recommendations to mitigate such effects.

In keeping with the aims of the International Journal of Human Computer Studies, the special issue will focus on papers providing concrete research contributions with a user-centric and/or engineering element. Review papers and papers which are purely theoretical are normally not considered, although in rare cases exceptions can be made. If a paper has been published elsewhere, the new version must be substantially different (50% or more) from contributions people have sent to conferences, journals or magazines.
Submissions to the special issue will be made through the online submission system: for further information and questions about this special issue please contact Dave Coyle (

Timeline for submissions/ Expected notification to authors
Submission open: January 2013
Submission deadline: 31< March 2013 15th April 2013
Review completion date: June 2013 July 2013 (Notification of 1st review)
Re-Submission by: 1 August 2013 October 2013
Final Acceptance: November 2013 (Notification of 2nd review)
Final Version due: December 2013

Reviewing Panel
Tim Bickmore, Northeastern University, US
Simon Bowen, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Willem-Paul Brinkman, Delft University of Technology, NL
John F. Canny, University of California Berkeley, US
Kate Cavanagh, University of Sussex, UK
Gavin Doherty, Trinity College Dublin, IRL
Abigail Durrant, Newcastle University, UK
Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Vienna University of Technology, AT
Jettie Hoonhout, Philips Research, NL
Shaun Lawson, Lincoln University, UK
Mark Matthews, Cornell University, US
Cecilia Mascolo, University of Cambridge, UK
John McCarthy, University College Cork, IRL
Cecily Morrison, Imperial College London, UK
Patrick Olivier, Newcastle University, UK
Paul Resnick, University of Michigan, US
Corina Sas, Lancaster University, UK
Steve Whittaker, University of California at Santa Cruz, US
Peter Wright, Newcastle University, UK

About Anja Thieme

Anja is a researcher on the SiDE Research Hub having previosly been a PhD student in the School of Computing Science (Culture Lab) since 2010.

Before she came to Newcastle she did a Bachelor and Master’s degree in applied cognition and media sciences at the University of Duisburg-Essen. During her studies she worked as a student assistant in the department of cognitive psychology, the department of interactive systems and interaction design, and in the department of social psychology (media and communication).

Anja’s main research area is user experience and how technological objects can become emotionally and personally meaningful to the individual. She is particularly interested in how tangible real world objects or artefacts with incorporated technology can be applied to support people’s quality of life.

In her PhD she explores the role of digital technology and interaction design in supporting the wellbeing of individuals suffering from mental illness such as clinical depression, borderline personality disorder or dementia. The PhD aims to supplement existing health care practices, providing functionality that supports individuals copings with emotional distress, helping them form and maintain positive interpersonal relationships and foster a sense of self and identity, and motivating engagement in activities that make life meaningful.

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