Hacking Mental HealthPosted: February 23, 2012
I want to be part of an event that goes beyond the idea of social media as communication (engagement, storytelling) to look at the potential of digital to reinvent approaches to mental health in and around the NHS. I’d call this ‘hacking’ – not breaking in to things, but using digital technology to catalyse creative rearrangement and unexpected reinvention. Hacking is an approach that overlaps with service design, co-production and other more familiar themes, but brings a tech-savvy subjectivity to re-arranging reality and circumventing limitations.
Innovation in a health system is never easy, but as I argued in ‘NHS innovation diffusion – from Deleuze & Guattari to Digital Movements‘ there are some compelling reasons to try a peer-to-peer and commons-based approach enabled by digital technology.
For this event we’re aiming for a barcamp (an unconference-style discussion) rather than a hackday (actually building stuff with technology) – but I expect the Mind Tech event will lay the groundwork for something more like a Social Innovation Camp on mental health. Even in the discussions we can adopt approaches from social hack events such as a peer-to-peer approach (where everyone has equal right to contribute, whatever their status outside the room), asset-based development (looking at what we can aggregate & build on, rather than what we lack) and rapid prototyping (of paper-based ideas).
A couple of years ago I was inspired by the example of Mental Health Camp Toronto and started a small group with the idea of running Mental Health Camp UK. Since that time the potential for a fruitful collision of digital technology and mental health has grown, and I hope Mind Tech will be a chance to explore the affordances of mobile apps, open data, liveness and self-organisation, without ignoring the psychodynamics of social media itself, and guided by the hacker ethic.
I’ll also be encouraging the students from our Goldsmiths MA in Creating Social Media to get involved, as Mind Tech is an example of Paulo Freire’s problem-driven learning model – the same approach to innovation that drives other pioneering interventions like Apps for Good.