“The irony of this is we launched the MindYourself App and I totally reached burnout” panellists discuss healthy digital innovation

On 20 April, we attended Bruntwood Sci-Tech’s event on healthy digital innovation, which featured a panel of speakers with unique and varied experience across psychological and digital tech sectors.

Speakers included Dr Jan Smith, psychologist and creator of the MindYourself App; Alex La Via, founder of Live More Offline; and Tim Brazier, managing director at Thrive by Design.

The MindYourself app was created in 2022 as a result of an increasing number of people within the health and social care workforce exhibiting burn out, stress and struggling with their mental wellbeing. One of the main purposes’ of the app is to provide people with a method of reaching out for support when they need it, as quite often this is not something that we feel comfortable doing in our day-to-day lives.

At the event, Jan said: “We know that people find it difficult because particularly in healthcare, there is a perception that we should feel okay and we should know the solution. I’m a psychologist, I’ve created this (app), do I get anxious? Yes I get anxious. The irony of this is we launched the app in July and I totally reached burnout. I think being able to share and reach out for support when we need it the most is really difficult for a lot of people, which is why we’ve then developed our peer intervention part of the app. What you would do is go into the app and you would say that you need to talk to someone, and you’ll either be directed to someone you can talk to in real life or virtually.”

“Our solution, MindYourself, very much sits in the prevention space, we prevent the escalation of mental health symptoms for workers who are short on time. Specifically in healthcare, this is evidence-based solution and provides strategies that people can use in 5, 10, 15 minutes or longer so whether they’re walking down the corridor or writing their notes in between consultations.”

The session moved on to focus on Live More Offline. Here, founder Alex talked about the importance of “intentional use of technology” in our personal and professional lives, citing her own experiences of burn out as a result of constant digital overload and the blurred boundaries that can arise from remote/hybrid working.

She said: “My background started as a chartered accountant within Deloitte, then working within large, multinational workplaces including the tech sector and it was this (refers to image of a smartdevice on the slideshow) device that was my initiation into digital wellbeing. I watched this smart device tool go from being a useful tool to then being constantly connected to it – with the red light flashing every time I received an email, it was interrupting my evenings, my weekends and eventually this became unsustainable. I reached a period of burnout and I took a break between roles. I started to question what impact digital technology and my digital habits have on my workplace wellbeing. What impact is technology having on societal wellbeing? And what can we do about it?

“At Live More Offline, we have launched a digital culture diagnostic where we run surveys inside organisations, and that shows you what the business experiences are. We look at those three pillars of a healthy digital culture – wellbeing, productivity, human connection and map it into a digital culture workplace assessment. This allows you to see peoples’ experiences of digital working and how that’s impacting productivity, wellbeing and retention.”

Moving on to Thrive by Design, Tim shared some insight into the company, which is part of the NHS and has been running for around 9 years. They have recently taken a different direction – focussing more on addressing the current challenges surrounding digital transformation and how to make technology more equitable for people across all organisations.

He said: “Digital by its very nature is exclusive, because it is something you are putting in between human beings – so there’s kind of a barrier already. It requires a lot of things to be able to access it and use technology confidently. Digital is often seen as quite separate to how organisations operate – with digital over here and clinical practice at the other end of the spectrum. We are trying to help people understand that digital isn’t the solution, it’s part of understanding what people are trying to do and achieve – it’s about where digital can enable that support. Digitally enabled transformation rather than just digital transformation.

“It is important to understand what you’re transforming and why. If your reason is that we should just be using digital, that’s unlikely to achieve the outcomes you desire. In terms of digitally enabling people, if there is no information as to how to access a process (or digital tool) it creates a cumulative barrier that gets built up over time. In healthcare, it is important to break down those digital barriers and siloes, bringing together different people and bringing clinicians and people on the front line in to these digital teams to make sure we understand what those experiences are and how we can create equitable digital inclusion.” 

Be sure to check out our website and social media for a more in depth exploration of the topics discussed in this article, which will be coming soon.