Designing Technology to Support Mental Wellbeing

Many therapies available to combat mental health problems such as clinical depression, borderline personality disorder or dementia are intended to combat negative symptoms. For this PhD, we posit that we can complement these existing healthcare practices with digital technology that will encourage positivity as well as diminish negativity. For example, we could support individuals while they are coping with emotional distress, help them form and maintain positive interpersonal relationships, foster a sense of self and identity, and motivate engagement in activities that make life meaningful.


The research involves a number of projects, including:

• Thinking Objects, an investigation into how the handling of ancient artefacts can be beneficial to people’s wellbeing. This will inform aspects of the design of other interactive artefacts to promote wellbeing.
Spheres of Wellbeing, a collection of objects intended to help users engage in practices of mindfulness, tolerate emotional distress and strengthen their sense of self, to be created in a participatory design process with women who have the dual diagnosis of learning disability and Borderline Personality Disorder.

Start Date: October 2010

Project supervisor: Thomas Meyer (Institute of Neuroscience), Patrick Olivier and Peter Wright

Co-supervisors: Jayne Wallace (Northumbria University) and Siân Lindley (Microsoft Research Cambridge)

Funding: Microsoft Research, SiDE