Having good mental health is important. It serves as the foundation for being able to live a positive and prosperous life full of love, good relations with friends, family and colleagues, social stability, wealth and for being able to soothe oneself when life gets tough, among others.
Unfortunately, a lot of people experience things and situations that inhibit them from having the best mental health possible, either temporarily or all through life. A dysfunctional childhood, a partner’s emotional abuse, work-related stress, bullying in the schoolyard, the experience of a traffic accident, experiencing war and many other scenarios like these may give rise to issues which inhibit a mind of being truly free – which they tend to do more often than not.
And help is not easy to find. Peers are often not qualified to help with mental health issues, and therapists are very costly. If you’re not born in a country with free mental health care services, you will need insurance to cover for your medical bills – if you have any insurance, that is. And even if you live in a country with free mental health care services, the waiting lists may be long, leaving you on your own for a long time.
So what do you do? Up until now you’ve pretty much been on your own, perhaps been given a handful of pills from the general practitioner, but with an enormous risk of losing your job, income, physical wellbeing and human relations while fighting your way back to a normal life.
This must change. And it can change. I believe that technology can help treat mental health issues and that it can help doing so in a fashion which is both humane and applicable in all relevant contexts. Technology can help individuals treat themselves, and it can help them connect with peers who have experienced the same issues and who would like to help others. And, it may help that often overlooked group of people: the friends and relatives who also struggle while trying to support the best they know.
A little more than three years ago, in the Autumn of 2010, I had the vision of a modular technological platform for building mental health recovery tools and methods on an epic scale, and I simply started building the thing – with smartphone app and all.
I got in contact with subject-matter experts and got a lot of verbal backing from everywhere. Everything was really great! Everything except the most important issue: human resources. With no dedicated business partners, no external financial backing and me being strung up with the leadership responsibilities of a running a successful full-time software consultancy, things had to go awry. So they did. Things came to a halt. Several times. I was really becoming desperate about either getting something out there or abandoning the project altogether… Trust me, it was almost unbearable believing so much in a cause, while not being able to execute on it.
Finally, after all this battling with myself on what to do, I came to my senses and I had the realization that the concepts and technology that MoodKick is building, was never supposed to be built and sold as traditional software or apps. No. It was meant to be free. Free for everyone.
Experiencing and sustaining good mental health throughout life really should be a human right.
MoodKick was meant to mark the beginning of a people’s movement of free mental health care support tools built on open source technology and with crowd-built and maintained treatment methods that can develop more rapidly and organically than traditional peer-reviewed methods, be more free (with no licensing costs related to e.g. depression tests), and more scalable (enabling not only therapists to help clients, but also clients to help each other).
I strongly believe that technology can help people with mental health issues recover better, more efficiently and in much more scalable ways than seen ever before, and having stated the above, I therefore chose to release MoodKick as the world’s first, open source mental health care platform and foundation.
The goal of MoodKick is to make recovery achievable for every human being by facilitating the collaborative development of:
1) Free and scalable, state-of-the-art, technology-mediated, context-relevant treatment regimes
2) A huge library of open content methods and interventions
3) Ground-braking ways of facilitating synchronous and asynchronous peer support networks across time and place
(please note that the goals and methods are dynamic at this point in time – they may change a bit)
So what now? I’ve launched a community platform on Ning that allows everyone interested in the project to sign up and discuss the project, concepts etc. Please do sign up and let’s get the discussion going: http://moodkick.ning.com.
During the next couple of weeks I will do my best to conceptualize and illustrate the thoughts and ideas behind the platform so that it’s easier to comprehend what the platform does – and how. And I will also try to figure out how to get the foundation bootstrapped.
Also, the technical platform itself has been released on Github (https://github.com/MoodKick) with a liberal MIT license. However, it lacks a lot at this moment: documentation, architectural diagrams, instructions for deploying, and, along with this, we’re about to revamp parts of the technical platform as various technical components have seen newer versions than the currently used ones. I expect that most of these written artifacts will be produced within the next 2-3 weeks, giving to-be-contributing software developers the optimum bootstrap experience.
So, I hope that you will join in on this project. It may really touch the lives of many in the most wonderful ways imaginable.
All the best,