Would You Invest In A Mental Health Wearable?

It used to be the case that above the age of 2, no one really cared how many steps you took. But, come the fitness revolution of the 2010s where strong became the new sexy and wellness became an all-encompassing lifestyle of diet, physical activity, and mental health, suddenly it was all we could do but keep track of our daily step count.

It didn’t take the tech giants long to capitalise on such health goals: there was the Fitbit, then came the Apple Watch, while most runners remained loyal to their trust Garmin watches. As wearable tech has continued to innovate over the last few years, there’s now set to be another contender on the market: healthtech. And unlike their fitness-oriented counterparts that measure workouts, heartrate, and countless other data points, these devices will hold personal data concerning our mental health.

As The Conversation reports, wearables are now commonplace. “The wearable technology market is currently valued at US$37 billion and is forecast to grow to include 1 billion connected wearable devices by 2022,” states the publication. But while we’ve been using wearables largely to process more data about our lives in the physical sense, the movement has now spread to the workplace.

Our workplace health is now registering as a serious priority for both employees and employers. The global coronavirus pandemic saw everyone slow down and as the workplace moved from the office to the home space, many found themselves working longer hours as they felt the need to constantly be “online”, with little to differentiate between work hours and personal life. It forced many of us to reckon with the prospect of burn-out and sustainable living conditions and in doing so, we tapped into our mental health and armed ourselves with tools to help support it.

With this shift in perspective though has come an eagerness on the behalf of workplaces to tap into just how their employees are doing. Companies are now on the hunt for the next big health indicator that might show things like how long an office worker has spent sitting down during working hours.

Take Moodbeam for example, a new device worn on the wrist which encourages wearers to press one of two buttons – yellow for “OK” and blue for “not OK” – when they register a mood change, or at scheduled times throughout the day. The device seeks to add emotional wellbeing to its established health indicator list, providing a deeper glimpse into how our moods fluctuate throughout the day and what might trigger such a response.

Linking to a smartphone app, Moodbeam then gives users an overview of these “mood moments” so they can help see trends or patterns and work on waise to foster greater self-awareness and emotional literacy.

It’s an interesting concept, particularly now when many are working from home and feel disconnected, alienated, or isolated from colleagues. But the device has also registered concerns for some, with The Conversation recognising that these moods would be recorded as a data point and for some employees, having your feelings monitored doesn’t always sit well. Some suggest that should they hit “not OK,” it could trigger a reaction from their employers that might be less than favourable.  

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