An ambitious app-based research project is hoping to change the conversation surrounding suicide and mental health by collecting the moods of millions of people from around the world over a 1-week period in October.
The “How is the World Feeling?” app, from the Australian nonprofit organization Spur Projects, aims to encourage up to 7 million participants to log their mood over a 1-week period, in the hope of stimulating discussion about mental health issues, while gathering a significant amount of data that will be made available for future mental health research.
“Suicide is a worldwide epidemic with over 1 million men and women taking their own lives each year,” states the project͛s website.
“Despite the increase in awareness of mental health over the past several years, there’s still a long way to go before mental health conversations are the norm. We think everyone taking part in the world’s largest mental health project is a pretty good conversation starter.”
A major contributing factor to poor mental health and suicide is a feeling of isolation. The project hopes that by providing the means to see, in real-time, how 7 million people are feeling, it may normalize the extremely broad range of emotions that are experienced every second of every day.
The app also provides the opportunity for any participant to share any of their own data or any of the worldwide data to a plethora of social media channels with the tap of a button – amplifying the reach of the conversation.
Apart from the novelty of participating in the world’s largest mental health project, the app also provides participants with an invaluable tool for self-reflection and support. If the participant logs a pattern of emotions that may need addressing, the app will automatically suggest localized tools and resources.
Each participant can see a history of their own feelings that they have logged. After “How is the World Feeling?” officially finishes on October 16th, participants can continue to use the app as a mood tracker.
“How is the World Feeling?” has been designed to be the largest democratic mental health survey in the world – with the aim of collecting over 70 million emotions. Access to such a large, international set of data means unprecedented understanding of mental health across an extremely vast range of demographics and geography.
All the data from the project will be completely open-source, meaning any individual, non-governmental organization (NGO), or business can utilize the information gathered.
Anyone choosing to participate in the study should be reassured that no personally identifiable information will be collected from any participant.
“Despite the fact the app is called ‘How is the World Feeling?’, what’s more interesting, from a data perspective, is ‘when’ and ‘why’ participants are feeling certain emotions,” the project organizers write.
“For example, the app can tell us information like: ‘Men between the ages of 18-22 are most anxious on weekday mornings between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. when commuting to work, whereas women tend to peak in anxiety in the middle of the day and more prominently at the start of the week.”
The project builds upon the success of a 2014 pilot study which asked ͚How is Australia Feeling and managed to collect over 20,000 submissions over a 6-day period.