How to make innovation in mental health accessible to all?

Mental health requires more and more attention and funding as mental health problems are on the rise. To bring mental health into the spotlight and support innovation in this field, the Connected Health Cluster, led by Tehnopol, is inviting experts and innovation leaders to join the cluster’s Mental Health Innovation Hub to empower mental health businesses with the help of the community.

The aim of the Mental Health Innovation Hub is to focus more attention on innovation in mental health and to support start-ups in this field. The Hub is part of the Connected Health Cluster, whose leader Piret Hirv said that in Estonia we cannot yet bring out any unicorns in the field of mental health, but everything is possible. “It’s good to see that the field is expanding and more and more companies are established, making a difference in the field of mental health,” said Hirv.

The initiator and spearhead of the Hub is Kadri Haljas, doctor of psychology and founder of mental health tech company Triumf Health. According to her, we are in a global mental health crisis and the pandemic has only made matters worse. “Today, you can’t find a school or workplace where people don’t experience mental health problems,” said Kadri Haljas. “This is an area in which we need to invest so that children are more successful at school and employees more productive at work.”

At the kick off event of the Mental Health Innovation Hub, Deputy Secretary General of E-services Development and Innovation Kalle Killar of the Ministry of Social Affairs gave an overview of the steps the ministry plans to take in order to prevent and reduce mental health problems. Among other things, there are plans to set up a separate department within the Ministry of Social Affairs to deal with mental health issues. “There’s a clear need to address mental health issues in a completely separate capacity,” said Kalle Killar. He pointed out that we should think about mental health innovation as an integral whole and ask ourselves how to make sure that good and innovative ideas become part of our daily lives.

Elo Võrk, Head of Sponsorship at Telia Eesti, spoke about how Telia, as a large company, is increasingly focusing on mental health both from the perspective of clients and employees. According to her, it is important to keep in mind when innovating that even though technology can solve many problems, not all users are equally digitally competent, so new solutions should not overlook the issue of accessibility.

Ain Aaviksoo, Strategic Director of the HeBA occupational health clinic, said that mental health problems are serious, but fortunately there is growing recognition and the realisation that these problems can be prevented. “More and more funding is being channelled into this area because this issue affects absolutely everyone,” said Ain Aaviksoo, adding that it is only a matter of time before we can talk about the next Estonian unicorn working in the field of mental health.

You can read more about the Mental Health Innovation Hub and how to join it here.

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