Science Behind MindPeers
Mental health and illness: Introduction
The nature of mental illness has been the subject of passionate discussion throughout history. In ancient Greece Plato, was the first to coin the term “mental health,” which was conceived as reason aided by temper and ruling over passion. Almost 2 centuries ago Griesinger stated that “mental illness is a brain illness.” Subsequently, the progress accomplished in genomics and brain imaging in the last few decades has made biological psychiatry stronger than ever and contributed to the reification of mental disorders as illnesses of the brain.
As the world slowly moved towards a more comprehensive approach, our understanding of mental health moved beyond illness. In 1948 the World Health Organization (WHO), defined mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”
Formulated more than 70 years ago, the WHO’s concept of mental health no longer seems adequate. We understand that mentally healthy individuals experience unpleasant emotions such as sadness, and anger as much as joy. It is at the core of human existence. As a result, the definitions of wellness and illness have changed, moving from a diagnosis-focused "absence of disease" model to a person-focused one that stresses positive psychological function for mental health.
World Psychiatry in its June 2015 issue defined mental health as ‘A dynamic state of internal equilibrium which enables individuals to use their abilities in harmony with universal values of society. Basic cognitive and social skills; ability to recognize, express and modulate one's own emotions, as well as empathize with others; flexibility and ability to cope with adverse life events and function in social roles; and harmonious relationship between body and mind represent important components of mental health which contribute, to varying degrees, to the state of internal equilibrium.’
Therefore, the term ‘mental health’ has a broad scope and encompasses illness, wellness, and everything in between. To this day, the term ‘mental health’ continues to be used both to designate a state, a dimension of health – an essential element in the definition of health – and to refer to the movement derived from the mental hygiene movement, corresponding to the application of psychiatry to groups, communities, and societies, rather than on an individual basis, as is the case with clinical psychiatry. This lack of a consensus-driven definition has become a huge barrier to integrating and designing mental health programs.
The Underlying Issues
Global Mental Illness Crisis:
Mental illness accounts for about one-third of the world’s disabilities caused by all adult health problems, resulting in enormous personal suffering and socioeconomic costs. It is labeled as the pandemic of the 21st century as we anticipate a major global health challenge.
Severe mental health problems including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders affect all age groups and occur in all countries. It is estimated that 350 million individuals experience depression annually.
Despite the increased availability of antidepressants during the past few decades, limited efficacy, safety issues, and high treatment costs have resulted in an enormous unmet need for the treatment of depressed mood. Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death in 15 to 29-year-olds, one of the most common causes of preventable death, resulting in enormous social disruption and losses in productivity.
Lack of cultural diversity in mental health:
Much of the theory and practice of mental health, including psychiatry and mainstream psychology, have emerged from Western cultural traditions and Western understandings of the human condition. While these relatively monocultural understandings of mental health have provided powerful conceptual tools and frameworks for the alleviation of mental distress in many settings, they have also been very problematic when applied to the context of non-Western cultures without consideration of the complexity that working across cultures brings with it.
Cultural diversity across the world has significant impact on the many aspects of mental health, ranging from the ways in which health and illness are perceived, health-seeking behavior, and attitudes of the consumer as well as the practitioners and mental health systems. As Hernandez et al. suggest “culture influences what gets defined as a problem, how the problem is understood, and which solutions to the problem are acceptable.”
A lack of understanding of the impact of cultural diversity on mental health threatens to push a larger population away from mental health services and becomes an obstacle to bridging the gap between mental health needs and mental health care.
Mental health at work in light of Covid 19:
Mental health occurs along a continuum, with thriving and positive mental health on one end and serious mental illnesses or addictions on the other. In between, there are a range of conditions that vary in intensity and impact that employers need to understand and support. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light issues like employee resignations, quiet quitting, over-employment, labor shortages, and conflicts between managers and employees over returning to in-person work. Employee burnout and well-being may be at the heart of several of these issues. A study found that loneliness and lack of social support come out as leading contributors to burnout, perhaps just as important — if not more so — than physical health and financial security.
Given that work performance depends on worker productivity, and mental well-being is a significant aspect of overall well-being, it can severely affect not only employee morale but also cost the company. The pandemic has made it painfully clear that the well-being of the workforce is in jeopardy.
According to global research, approximately 50 percent of employees and 53 percent of managers are burnt out in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workplace burnout is a WHO-recognized condition described as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”, and it also states that 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety alone.
Employers who want to build a workplace that prioritizes well-being need to treat this like a growth priority. While 96 percent of companies globally provided additional mental-health resources to employees, only one in six (16.7%) employees reported feeling supported.
Each of us has different practices and experiences that lead to a positive sense of well-being, and others that cause stress, anxiety, or discomfort. It is critical to recognize this and curate personalized solutions to enhance well-being. Conducting self-assessment exercises and measuring improvement is the way forward. It will allow employees to identify their starting points, discover their building blocks, and track their own improvement.
Productivity Loss & Mental Health at Work
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, amounting to an estimated global cost of $1 trillion in productivity, equivalent to WHO estimates of the costs of cancer. In India alone, WHO estimates that the economic loss, due to mental health conditions, between 2012-2030 is 1.03 trillion USD.
The results from a landmark survey by Deloitte with Indian employees indicate a combined loss of $14 billion is incurred due to poor mental health.
- 47% found workplace stress a major contributor to poor mental health
- 80% have reported mental health issues in 2020-2021, out of these:
- 39% did not take steps due to stigma
- 33% continued to work
- 29% took time off
- 20% resigned
From February to April 2022 the McKinsey Health Institute conducted a survey of nearly 15,000 employees and 1,000 human-resource (HR) decision-makers in 15 countries. In all 15 countries and across all dimensions, “toxic workplace behavior” was, by a large margin, the biggest predictor of burnout symptoms and “intent to leave”—accounting for more than 60 percent of the explained variation.
- 26% of the employees showed a high intent to leave.
- 38% of employees were distressed
- 38% of employees reported burn out
- 40% of employees reported Anxiety Symptoms
- 41% of employees reported Depression symptoms
A recent study conducted by LifeSpeak partner Lime Global found:
- 40% of employees in the UK would look for a new job if their employer didn’t support their mental wellbeing
- 81% want their employer to support mental wellbeing
- 69% of employees said that barriers exist to getting support for mental health
- 36% believed that their employer doesn’t provide enough support for their mental health.
It can be anticipated that employees will seek out employers who not only commit to supporting well-being but also have visible and accessible pathways for employees who need help and flexibility for customization within their approach.
The WHO suggestion
In response to shared global concerns over the crisis in mental health care, in 2012 the World Health Organization published the “Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020” and set forth 4 major objectives:
- more effective leadership and governance for mental health
- the provision of comprehensive, integrated mental health and social care services in community-based settings
- implementation of strategies for promotion and prevention
- strengthened information systems, evidence, and research.
The MindPeers’ Mental Strengths Approach
Considering the WHO action Plan MindPeers’ has come up with a threefold solution that works towards bridging this gap with individuals, organizations and also at a community level. The service designed encourage users to take proactive steps to promote mental health while also providing therapeutic interventions to individuals that require treatment solutions for specific concerns.
MindPeers has chosen to have mental strengths approach to mental well-being making positive psychology the foundation of all its solutions. The process of identifying and utilizing your strengths in everyday life has been linked to
- an elevated sense of vitality and motivation (Clifton & Anderson, 2001),
- increased probability of achieving goals, and a stronger sense of life direction (Hodges & Clifton, 2004).
- higher self-confidence, engagement, and productivity (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).
Identifying strengths has also been linked to benefits beyond the individual. Focusing on employee strengths during performance reviews was shown to increase workplace productivity by up to 34% (Corporate Leadership Council, 2002). Using strengths-based interventions in the workplace also led to a lower turnover of staff by up to 14% (Asplund, Lopez, Hodges, & Harter, 2009).
Understanding Positive psychology
Positive psychology is the science of what is needed for a good life. This is not a new focus - proposing qualities needed for a good life is an activity dating back to Aristotle's investigation of eudaimonia and builds on seminal work in the last Century by Antonovsky, Rogers, and Maslow. But the emergence of a scientific discipline in this area is a modern phenomenon. Martin Seligman is often identified along with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as the founders of the discipline.
In his iconic speech at the time of his inauguration as the president of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1988, Dr. Martin Seligman declared that psychologists need to study what makes happy people happy! He noted, “The most important thing, the most general thing I learned, was that psychology was half-baked, literally half-baked. We had baked the part about mental illness […] The other side’s unbaked, the side of strength, the side of what we’re good at.” (Address, Lincoln Summit, Sep. 1999.) In many ways, this signaled the opening of a new perspective for the field of psychology: Positive Psychology.
Findings from positive psychology are important to mental health services because their focus on a good life is as relevant to people across the spectrum, from people with mental illness to people without mental illness. Their definition states that The field of positive psychology at the subjective level is about valued subjective experiences: well-being, contentment, and satisfaction (in the past); hope and optimism (for the future); and flow and happiness (in the present). At the group level, it is about the civic virtues and the institutions that move individuals toward better citizenship: responsibility, nurturance, altruism, civility, moderation, tolerance, and work ethic.
Positive psychology looks at mental wellness as a continuum. The Complete State model of Mental health sheds light on this idea.
Complete State Model of Mental Health
Around the world, governments, and organizations are reforming the way they address mental health care in response to the rising burden of mental illness. A significant challenge has been demonstrating where and how preventative mental health interventions, such as resilience skills training, fit within the complex mental illness landscape.
Keyes’ (2005) complete state model of mental health helps navigate this complexity. His landmark publication revealed that mental illness and positive mental health (or well-being) are two separate, correlated, unipolar dimensions. In other words, mental illness and mental health are two separate but related concepts and are not two opposite ends of the same spectrum, as was previously thought.
MindPeers’ Key Solutions
Centered around this idea, the MindPeers platform identifies mental strengths as an active process of building personal assets in order to maximize performance, tolerate constant demands, cope with stressors and execute in any condition.
The core objective of the MindPeers program is to help individuals and organizations develop a more resilient and proactive mental attitude. Our solution is delivered through 4 Important channels.
- The Mindpeers App
The Mindpeers App conducts a self-reported assessment as a preliminary step to help users recognize areas of strengths, and identify gaps. With world-leading education technology optimized for mobile devices, MindPeers engages users with its evidence-based mental training methodology. Individuals that are in the Languishing zones can use the app to track their mental health, gain user insights and develop the required skills to lead a Flourishing life.
- MindPeers has built a suite of tools that complement and enhance the platform. These tools allow the learner to practice and build their mental strengths and enhance their mental wellness. Using Machine Learning, the app suggests a curriculum design, each MindShort recommends a tool that supports and allows for effective and relevant specific skill practice.
- MindPeers App also includes Neuroscience Games. Game-based learning (GBL) when integrated into the flow of educational stimuli ‘fits’ with the sensing-thinking-doing functioning of the nervous system. The App use a series of specially designed games and activities to exercise your brain.
- MindPeers MindShorts are short recorded video presentation on a single, tightly defined topic. They include questions on the topic to check the user’s understanding. A MindShort is usually 5-7 minutes long and divided into 3 main segments that focus on introducing the topic, understanding the science behind it, and actionable steps that the learner can take to develop specific skills that are mapped to the Mental Strengths.
MindPeers recognizes that our users may lie anywhere on the two continuums of Mental health and Mental Illness. Individuals often approach therapy with a goal to heal past traumas, and understand themselves better. MindPeers works with individuals to help them move towards the flourishing zone.
- Individual and Couples therapy
The Therapy Vertical provides individuals with the opportunity to seek therapeutic intervention for a specific concerns (eg: anxiety, sleep concerns, interpersonal relationship issues), or take proactive steps towards self growth. MindPeers also provices Couple therapy services so partners can address their issues together in a safe space in the presence of a therapist. Individuals that experience high mental illness symptoms can book a session with the clinical psychologists at MindPeers.
- Diverse Panel
Our panel of clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, life coaches and career counselors makes it possible for clients to avail psychometric testing services in order to get a diagnosis for their symptoms and have access to wholistic care. Professionals can share information in order to meet the client’s needs better.
- Support for MHPs
MindPeer’s advocacy is not just limited to individuals seeking mental health support. MindPeers conducts Supervision sessions for Mental health Practitioners, provides training programs to help them upskill and stay updated with the new developments in the field. MindPeers acknowledges the efforts of MHPs and promotes fairpay. Our revamped therapy model ensures that we’re making quality therapy services accessible.
- Therapist Matching
Our Panel includes a diverse set of Mental Health practictioners, each with their unique skills set and expertese in different schools of therapy. The therapist matching algorithm ensures that we’re able to match clients with the right MHP and provide them the services they need. This makes MindPeer’s Therapy a tailor made service that can be altered to meet the needs of our diverse clients too!
- Mental Strength Consultation
Mindpeers works with employers and their employees to address the topic of mental health in workplaces. We help organizations recognize their mental strengths and bridge the gaps that exist when it comes to mental health in workspaces.
- Blended Approach
Our users (employees of client organizations) are provided with access to the App and Therapeutic Services. The data captured from the app and Insights from these are used to provide the organization with an understanding of the Employees mental health and mental strengths.
This blended approach is based on novel research highlighting the efficacy and willingness of employees to use app-based solutions. In one recent example of this, users of the VirginPulse wellness platform reported an increase of 65% in engagement, 32% lower turnover rates, and a 9% increase in productivity when engaging with a wellness app (Agarwal et al., 2018).
- Insight Driven Interventions
Mindpeers provides monthly reports, building a concrete picture of the mental health scenario and helping organizations make the necessary changes in policy as well as conduct onsite workshops when required. Employers are able to keep track of their employee’s wellbeing and conduct organization wide interventions depending on these insights.
MindPeers conducts worskhops every month to psychoeducate individuals, open difficult conversations and help participants build a safe space amongst each other so they are able to share vulnerabilites and work better as a team. In addition, onsite workshops provide individuals with an opportunity for practical engagement through didactic learning, experiential exercises, and individual reflective work.
The workshops are designed to be interactive and activity based so participants are able to get the most out of it. MindPeers comes up with innovative ideas such as Expressive Art, Cinema based workshops, reflective exercises and sharing circles.
While covid forced the world towards isolation, it was hard on all of us. We at MindPeers recognize the importance of engaging with others. Our Clubs Vertical is aimed at creating safe spaces for individuals so they can engage in meaningful interactions and foster a sense of belongingness and collectively build a community.
The mindpeers App hosts a Vent out wall so our users can come share their thoughts and feelings, or just vent out struggles that often become part of everyday life. The Feature also allows users to share anonymously thus ensuring they can engage with this space freely.
Mindpeers hosts Events such as Mental pic-nics, monthly journal clubs and panel discussions, activity based events that centered around specific mental health topics. These events are designed around themes that are relevant for individuals in current times. Participants can meet like minded individuals, voice out their concerns and find support by being heard and feeling seen/ recognized in their daily struggles.
Events are conducted both offline and online so we’re accessible from different parts of the world.
The MindPeers Advantage
MindPeers is a leading mental well-being platform that empowers users to measure, track, train, and upskill their mental strengths. Our personalized and preventative mental health platform does this with three unique, industry-redefining elements: Mobile, Micro, and Measurable
With world-leading education technology optimized for mobile devices, MindPeers engages users with its evidence-based mental training methodology. The App is designed for phones so uers are able to have easy and immesiate access to their mental health data. By logging on to the MindPeers mobile app users can easily measure their mental strengths, and track their mental wellness journey, anywhere, anytime.
All training with MindPeers is available in micro-consumable modules that are informed by the leading edge of strength-based learning. Users learn about their mental strengths and uncover a personalized learning track with short-form content and tools to build their mental strengths and skills from the convenience of their pockets.
MindPeers uses machine learning and a mental strength questionnaire to accurately measure a user's mental strengths and provides recommendations unique for each user, in real-time. Users can simply complete the Mental strength Inventory of signature strengths to assess their baseline and get started on their personalized Mental strengths upskilling journey. They can follow the personalized learning path to train or practice the skills that are most in need at that moment.
MindPeers User Journey
The MindPeers platform and its content have undergone market testing to account for evidence-based content and solution, learner differentiation in content presentation, micro-learning to minimize time commitment, new media to keep content current and interesting, gamification to maximize engagement, and comprehensive coverage across the wellbeing capacity-building domains.
It is an evidence-based habit formation platform that believes in creating sustainable behavior change in the space of mental wellness. The User Journey of the platform is based on the foundations of the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change
Stage 1: Precontemplation: At this stage, behavior change is not intended for the near future. Users at this stage may not be aware of the app and services provided by MindPeers, or may not see them as relevant to them.
Stage 2: Contemplation: At this stage, there is increasing awareness about the need to change. The users may download the app and explore what MindPeers has to offer, considering the advantages and costs of the change. This stage can be long-lasting. looking at the benefits of the change can prove effective in moving toward the next stage.
Stage 3: Preparation: At this stage, the individual change is decided but the process is not decided. Interventions at this stage focus on which support will ensure change achievement. Users at this stage can make use of the guided journey to gain relevant information and use the tools required to bring about the change.
Stage 4: Action: At this stage, active efforts are put in to ensure the change. The user is motivated to learn/ know more, the user is excited to upskill and train through the app. Gamification of the app ensures that the users receive timely rewards and are motivated to continue working on their mental health.
Stage 5: Maintenance: At this stage, change has been maintained for a considerable period of time and there is growing confidence in the permanence of the change. The user is able to create a toolkit for themselves. There is awareness of what the user needs and the knowledge required to help themselves / reach out to others.
Mental Strengths Measure
The app greets the user with an initial, baseline assessment that determines where the learner is with respect to the MindPeers signature strengths. It helps the user identify strengths and gaps without any previous understanding of the training content. This is achieved by MindPeers' proprietary, and validated, strength measure called the Mental Strengths Measure.
Mental Strengths Measure is a simple self-assessment that allows individuals to quickly learn where they stand, at that very moment, with respect to the seven signature mental strengths. This self-assessment, which involves 14 intuitive questions about one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, immediately reveals to the user mental strengths scores in-app and intelligently suggests the best place for that individual to begin training. This baseline mental strength measure allows the MindPeers platform to personalize a learning path for each user, guiding each learner to spend their learning time and effort for optimal results and outcomes.
What are Mental strengths?
Similar to physical muscles, mental strengths are a muscle that we can build to improve our well-being. Mental strengths help us to get through difficulties that we face, pick ourselves up after a setback and restore equilibrium. Mental strengths and mental illness are not mutually exclusive. Individuals with mental illness have to work hard to develop coping mechanisms and mental strengths as they navigate life. Similarly, the absence of mental illness doesn’t automatically correspond to mental strength. However, building mental strength helps with better mental health, and better mental health aids mental strength.
Mental Strengths make up of thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is the ability to cope with adversity in a healthy way. It includes being aware of your emotions and knowing when to engage and disengage from them.
Aspiration includes an idea of a goal/ milestone and a desire to reach said goal/ milestone. The individual feels hope and experiences motivation to take the next steps toward the goal/ milestone.
Financial Fitness is the combination of mindset, knowledge, and behaviors toward money management decisions that best support current and future life circumstances.
Energy Management- Attaining and maintaining a state of equilibrium in physical, emotional, and mental energy to ensure the individual feels motivated and is able to function optimally.
Connection is the ability to engage with individuals in interpersonal and social settings to foster a relationship where one feels valued, seen, and heard.
Self Expertise as a strength refers to the knowledge of one's emotional-mental state and the wisdom to regulate oneself in situations that may cause imbalance.
Precision involves attention, deliberateness, and the ability to focus energy in accordance with one's will.
Leadership is the ability to choose, prepare and influence a group of individuals to work towards a shared goal.
Upskilling in Mental Health
Mental health touches everyone’s emotional development and mental performance. It is an aspect that begins early in childhood and is part of our lives throughout. At different stages of growth, we also develop skills that promote Mental health.
We often think of preventative mental health to be the same as the promotion of mental health. Promotion includes intervention before a specific mental health problem has been identified, with the ultimate goal of improving the positive mental health of the population.
Mental health prevention involves addressing determinants of mental health problems before a specific mental health problem has been identified in the individual, group, or population with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of future mental health problems in the population. (Miles, Espiritu, Horen, Sebian, & Waetzig, 2010).
MindPeers’ approach is two-fold. The strengths-based model focuses on promoting mental health, while the therapy services provide both preventative and treatment interventions.
Why Skill Training in Mental Health?
Mental skills are internal capabilities that help control our minds efficiently and consistently as we work towards our goals. Mental skills training provides the methods and techniques to not only develop skills such as concentration and positive body language but also to foster personal characteristics such as self-esteem and positive competitive skills and behaviors. Skill training can help individuals identify their needs, communicate better and live a fulfilling life, even in the face of adversity.
Skill Training develops new neural pathways and strengthens them. Much like the case with physical muscles, training the muscles of our mind makes us stronger, empowering us to reach our true potential. Training our mind keeps it from growing old, it promotes brain plasticity, increasing white matter in our brains.
How does training on the MindPeers platform help?
The MindPeers platform supports mental wellbeing by building and maintaining mental strengths for users in an effective, individualized, adaptable, and readily available way. Learners on the platform will be able to think, feel, and be better on a more consistent and reliable basis. This helps learners navigate their way to being engaged, contributing members of their teams and communities, and delivering increased results and performance with greater ease and consistency.
MindPeers Curriculum Overview
The MindPeers curriculum recognizes that today, and in the future, mental well-being is vital for psychological safety, learning and development, and results. Mental wellness is the key differentiator for high performance and continued growth, especially in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world.
MindPeers curriculum seeks to promote intellectual, emotional, and social learning, integration, and the application of mental skills to help counter the rising rates of stress, overwhelm, burnout, mental illness, absenteeism, isolation, separation, conflict, and poor performance in the workplace. This is accomplished by providing learners with the context, knowledge, tools, and recommended practices that build and maintain those signature strengths and skills. Equipping individuals with the required skills to overcome adversity and deal with change is a sound investment in the long-term health of any organization.
The MindPeers curriculum explores the seven signature mental strengths and maps each strength to a cluster of skills. These seven strengths were initially identified by an extensive literature review, paired with practical knowledge from decades of clinician experience in psychiatry, performance psychology, and educational theory. The MindPeers team has built an evidence-based mental strength training program that leverages the very best of today’s mental wellness education and data technology so that individuals and organizations can easily and effectively manage change and minimize the detrimental effects on mental health
A curriculum that is a stimulus for personal achievement by broadening, as well as deepening individual capacity to achieve and maintain mental wellness. The MindPeers curriculum recognizes that comprehensive and effective training is built upon a framework of sound principles, which include the following:
- Purpose and Values
- A clearly-defined purpose, that accommodates unique learner profiles while it delivers expected outcomes for the program, is made possible by aligning expected results with learning approaches and content design that fits all learning types.
- A program that reflects and incorporates MindPeers values:
- Growth Mindset
- Learning Design/ Pedagogical Principles
- Integration of educational best practices that optimize learner experience and uptake, meaning acquisition and training results will be:
- engaging, active, and kinesthetic
- driven by the needs and abilities of the learner, controlling the pace and nature of their progress through training experiences and outcomes
- adapted for the mobile learning environment
- able to capture timely, accurate feedback
- inclusive of a variety of ways for learners to interact with the training materials
- designed to enable learners to apply, practice, and integrate learnings in multiple ways
- clear in content design so that uptake and stickiness of training are optimized
- consistent in content design, structure, and quality, so that learners can easily navigate the curriculum at their own pace and on their own time without assistance.
- Instructional content is based on facts and evidence-based research, presented to the learner in relatable, meaningful, and manageable ways so that training is within easy reach of the entire learner population
- Incorporation of assessment: Participants, sponsors, and owners of the program have the ability to measure and track their training progress
- Accessibility Factors
- Ability to be rolled out and implemented in an organization simply, clearly, and within a reasonable timeframe.
- Easily understood and able to be used by participants from a broad range of work and life backgrounds
Different Ways of Learning:
MindPeers curriculum accommodates all learner profiles by adhering to the tenets of differentiation instruction. Scientists and psychologists have developed several different models to understand the different ways that people learn best, and MindPeers trains all to get a proactive approach to mental wellness by offering different learning applications.
Specifically, this curriculum recognizes the VARK model in its identification of four primary types of learners.
- Visual: a preference to see information and link relationships between ideas more concretely. (videos, image-based interactives, still graphics, data charts, diagrams)
- Auditory: a preference to hear information rather than read or see it. (visuals with attending audio track, podcasts, meditations, recitations)
- Reading/Writing: a preference for exploring new information through text and syntax. (short-form narrative, long-form narrative, text-based interactives, text quizzes, practice opportunities to type to learn or type what has been learned)
- Kinesthetic: a preference for hands-on, experiential, or applied to trial of information. (drag-and-drops, moveable dials or scales, matching items, connecting items, or other action/reaction responsive design for learners to demonstrate, simulate, or physically engage)
The MindPeers curriculum acknowledges that each learner could respond best to different instructional methods, so each learning objective is designed to accommodate all four VARK types. This ensures that our mental wellness training is inclusive of all learning types and is well-positioned for impact within any learner population. The MindPeers curriculum also acknowledges that learning retention is impacted by various forms of learning. For example, the chart below shows that retention significantly increases as the learner is more active (vs. passive), engages more senses, and moves into the kinesthetic realm or, in other words, becomes a habit of practice.
The MindPeers curriculum is designed to drive learners to apply learnings in their work and personal lives, either by training from concept to science to experience in all lessons or by making the digital tools and neuroscience games a regular go-to for MindPeers users. A key learning outcome for MindPeers is practice because it optimizes learner uptake, retention, and integration into lived experience.
A MindShort is a short recorded video presentation on a single, tightly defined topic. It includes questions on the topic to check the user’s understanding. Given the reduced attention spans, users can quickly grow bored watching a talking head on their screen. A MindShort is usually 5-7 minutes long and divided into 3 main segments that focus on introducing the topic, understanding the science behind it, and actionable steps that the learner can take to develop specific skills that are mapped to the Mental Strengths.
In traditional teaching methods, learners are passive knowledge receivers. MindShorts make them active learners.
MindShorts seem to be a simple educational concept: Targeted lessons for learners based on their knowledge of the subject matter rather than grade or age. They are independent learning modules that provide the learner with information in short consumable bites so they can focus on one skill at a time.
MindPeers has built a suite of tools that complement and enhance the platform. These tools allow the learner to practice and build their mental strengths and enhance their mental wellness. Within the curriculum design, each MindShort recommends a tool that supports and allows for effective and relevant specific skill practice.
In keeping with a learning design that is flexible to learner needs, all the tools available in the MindPeers app are available to all learners at any time, as often as they like. This means a learner does not have to go through a whole MindShort to access the practice. Rather, as they explore the various tools, they can come back to and craft an intentional mental health plan/ toolkit and practice with chosen tools that are customized to their individual needs.
All tools share the following characteristics:
- Support the development and maintenance of one or more of the key mental health skills
- Based on current scientific research and evidence in the fields of psychiatry, performance psychology, mental wellness, and neuroscience
- Can be accessed and used as often as a learner likes
- Intuitive to use; that is, requires no pre-training to confidently and competently use the tool
- Doesn’t require completion of all skill training lessons to be used or be useful; while completing all of the training content, it could enhance a learner’s use and results associated with a tool, inherent value can be derived simply from engaging with the tool
- Embody kinesthetic learning, which provides the greatest likelihood of learner retention and integration
- Are named clearly and concisely for easy learner recognition and to facilitate learner in tool selection
List of MindPeers’ tools
- Thought guides:
Thought guides ar a key MindPeers tool with its roots in Cognitive Behavior Theory, the core principle of which is the interconnectedness between thoughts, emotions, and actions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a theoretical and treatment approach that helps you recognize negative or unhelpful thought and behavior patterns. MindPeers thought guides are a crucial tool that helps learners:
- Awareness: The primary aim of the thought guides is to help learners identify the thoughts that they are going through in the here and now. An expansive library is curated to target thoughts that people experience. This library is updated with inputs derived from repeatedly self-reported thoughts in therapy, on the vent-out wall, and highlighted during group sessions and focused group discussions. A continually broadening thought collection ensures that each learner finds relatable thoughts.
- Reframing thoughts: MindPeers thought guides on a second level focus on reframing thoughts. “Reframing” is a technique used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to identify automatic thoughts and replace them with more balanced thoughts. The practice of identifying and stopping these distortions/negative thoughts is crucial in breaking the cycles of stress, anxiety, and depression. Thought guides introduce learners to evidence-based techniques to stop and reframe their automatic negative thoughts that can turn into thought spirals.
- Behavioral translations: Through the interconnectedness of the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, in their last element thought guides initiate an action-focused approach that can create change in behaviors. Behavioral changes can be seen and measured. Exercises, worksheets and practices create sustainability in behavior transformations.
- Mood checkin
Awareness of how we are feeling is a key component of emotional intelligence. Research has shown that mood tracking can lead to better mental health. While checking in daily is ideal, even weekly mood tracking can give the user valuable insights into what makes them happy, mad, sad, content, anxious, and a whole host of other emotions. With this new treasure trove of data, they can understand your positive and negative triggers and make lifestyle changes accordingly. The feature is designed such that the user can take less than a minute to record their mood during the course of their day. The feature also allows users to journal their feelings to maintain a more detailed record.
The mantra tool is designed to allow users to pick from a list of quotes or come up with their own positive affirmations. These simple statements help shift your focus away from perceived failures or inadequacies and direct your focus toward your strengths — those you already have and those you want to develop. Users can choose a mantra for the day/ week and set a reminder for their mantra. This is based on the Self Affirmation theory- the idea that we can maintain our sense of self-integrity by telling ourselves (or affirming) what we believe in positive ways.
- Gratitude Promp
- Journal Tool
Gaming can benefit your mental health in many ways. Just like any other muscle, it’s possible to use a series of specially designed games and activities to exercise your brain. By incorporating brain games and other fun cognitive exercises into daily life, you can strengthen your brain’s connections, prevent atrophy, and keep your mind healthy and sharp as you age. By improving the physical function of the brain with the many cognitive benefits, to developing better social skills, gaming can have a positive impact on real-life situations.
Findings also show that Game-based learning (GBL) when integrated into the flow of educational stimuli ‘fits’ with the sensing-thinking-doing functioning of the nervous system. GBL also fits with the natural ‘needs’ of the brain. The first need of the brain is to survive and therefore to be in control. The second need of the brain is to feel good and therefore to have fun, to play, and to be rewarded. The third need of the brain is to save energy and therefore to make things logical and congruent. Game-based learning makes the brain feel in control, it offers fun, play, and reward, and it fits with the need to save energy by having a congruent story.
List of MindPeers’ Neuroscience games :
- Whac a mole
Whac-A-Mole is a game of quick reflexes and persistence, whereby a player is expected to “whack” cartoonish-looking moles on the screen, as they pop up at random from a cabinet. The quicker you hit the moles, the more points you score.
The game requires the player to use tactile and visual senses, concentration, and reflexes. It allows the players to be present- shutting down the mental chatter. Whac-a-mole can be a great stressbuster allowing the players to catch a break.
- Connect 4:
Problem-solving is a life skill. Humans make more than 30,000 decisions every day, and to make every decision, we take help from problem-solving skills. Connect 4 is a game that allows one to practice problem-solving in a game environment.
- Playing Connect 4 saw reporting of insight and search experiences that were both positive and negative, with the majority of participants using all four solving types: Positive search, positive insight, negative search, and negative insight.
- Phenomenological ratings suggest that these reported experiences were comparable to those elicited by existing laboratory methods focused on positive insight. This establishes the potential for Connect 4 to be used in future problem-solving research as a reliable elicitation tool of insight and search experiences for both positive and negative solving.
- Connect 4 may be seen to offer more true-to-life solving experiences than other paradigms where a series of problems are solved working toward an overall superordinate goal rather than the presentation of stand-alone and unrelated problems. Future work will need to look to develop versions of Connect 4 with greater control in order to fully utilize this methodology for creative problem-solving research in experimental psychology and neuroscience contexts. (Hill, G. and Kemp, S., 2018)
- Clear Sky:
My clear sky is your space to put these thoughts down, de-clutter your brain and create more space for creativity, relaxation, and finding yourself
- An experimental study conducted at Michigan State University revealed that expressive writing can help our brain ‘cool down’ in the state of worrying. On a neurological level, being worried is like you’re constantly multitasking. Expressive writing can clear your mind’s worries and free up resources in your brain that could be put to use on other tasks.
- When we associate our emotions or the clutter in our brain with written words, our emotional reactions reduce greatly, making the experience of trauma less intense. measured people’s brain activity during journal therapy. Professor and researcher Matthew D. Lieberman from UCLA explained that putting feelings into words is like hitting a break when you see a yellow light.
- When we disclose our emotions/ thoughts: We are able to verbalize, which engages our neocortical functioning, thus making it possible to look at the situation from a less exaggerated perspective, processing what is happening, reflecting, self-exploration, and healing possible
- Putting your thoughts onto the clouds allows you to take one step towards separating them from you. Once this happens, it's possible to look at them as ‘thoughts’ instead of ‘my thoughts,’ thus detachment. This detachment makes looking for solutions possible.
- This is your space to put your thoughts. Having this space allows you to set boundaries and not overstep and spill over the rest of your life
- Positive psychology encourages a positive approach to life, resiliency in the face of obstacles, and adjusting perspective in order to do so. Yet, acceptance is integral in order to move forward. Writing thoughts makes them concrete and real and thus step towards acceptance possible.
- The more you’ve got going on at any given time, the less energy and attention you’ll have available for each activity. This is problematic because deep engagement is a precursor to fulfillment and enjoyment – a Harvard study found that people are much happier when they are fully present for the activity that they are doing. A rushed or scattered mind is generally not a happy mind.
- Color and Words
The colour and word game require the player to pick the colour in which the word appears. Our mind is trained to read words and does this almost automatically. The colour and words game requires the mind to pay attention to different stimuli (the colour). The game helps us slow down, and refocus our attention (from the flow of words in our mind and on the screen) to the colours. The game is based on the Stroop effect. The effects observed in the Stroop task provide a clear illustration of people’s capacity for selective attention.
Multiple studies, including the original experiments by Stroop, suggest that practice can decrease Stroop inference. This has implications for our learning skills, ability to multitask, and how we form habits. Psychologist and economist, Daniel Kahneman explored this concept in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” Our fast thinking, what he refers to as System 1, is our initial, automatic reaction to things we encounter.
Kahneman wrote, “When System 1 runs into difficulty, it calls on System 2 to support more detailed and specific processing that may solve the problem of the moment.” When it comes to the Stroop effect, System 1 (our automatic, fast thinking) seeks to find the quickest pattern available. Kahneman believes by understanding how our brains make connections, we can overcome them to reach more logical conclusions by calling on System 2, our controlled thinking, quicker.
- Memory Game
Playing memory games can improve other brain functions, such as attention, concentration, and focus. Memory games give space to critical thinking and that helps nurture attention to detail. Memory games can improve visual recognition.
Short-term memory is key to playing memory games and playing them often will improve function in this area. A good short-term memory can improve a person's long-term memory too.