Strengthening mental health
Strengthening mental health

According to the World Health Organisation, “mental health is a state of wellbeing”.1 It’s an empowering mindset where individuals are resilient against stressors and able to contribute positively and productively to their broader community. With mental wellbeing being a key aspect in holistic conversations on health, we turned to a digital solution for Department of Defence to support their members’ mental health amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Mental health is just as important as physical health

No one knows this as well as the Department of Defence (Defence). It has long recognised that the mental health of its people is critical to its overall effectiveness and capability as an organisation.

Defence members are high performing individuals that deal with incredible mental and physical challenges. In order for them to be at the top of their game they need to be resilient. Just like professional athletes, they know that the body will not perform if they don’t have the right mindset. Compromise one, and the other suffers too.

As awareness of Mental Health issues grow, so does the number of mental health resources that are made available

Andrew Cressie

Andrew Cressie

2020 ramped things up a notch — or ten

Stating the obvious — 2020 was a rough year. Not only for our nation, but the entire globe. The year brought into sharp focus the need to monitor people’s mental health as they deal with the crises surrounding them.

Talking openly about mental health is not easy. It is surrounded by stigma and only in recent years has that stigma started to be broken down, albeit there is a long way to go. It feels as though the winds of change are blowing with initiatives such as RUOK day and Mental Health Month being embraced more broadly in Australia. As awareness of Mental Health issues grow, so does the number of mental health resources that are made available. However this brings the challenge of navigating the landscape of growing publicly available resources. Imagine if you were starting to feel overwhelmed, with work, family and the stress of a global pandemic (all pretty relatable, hey).

Now, imagine this feeling growing week after week. You might want to seek help, but where to start? Searching on Google, the number of search results lave you feeling even more overwhelmed as you can’t seem to figure out what to do next. Wouldn’t it be great to be pointed in the direction of something helpful, based on what you’re currently feeling?

That is what HeadStrength does.

Building HeadStrength

Defence recognised that it was difficult for their members to navigate through the plethora of mental health resources available and easily accessible content based on their circumstances. They wanted an app that catered specifically to the demands their people face and which helped reduce the stigma of mental health. One that empowers someone to seek the help they need, when they need it.

Deloitte worked closely with Defence members to co-design a solution to meet this need. We’ve built a digital space that they can go to on their phone to assess and reflect on how they’re feeling in a safe and anonymous way. It’s one of many supports to help them on their journey of mental wellbeing. This project was unique as the project team started in lockdown and finished with many members still in lockdown. The entire project was delivered remotely. Despite the challenges of constant MS Teams calls and lockdown protocols we managed to deliver an app that we are extremely proud of.

HeadStrength provides a range of self-checking tools to quickly gauge a user’s current level of mental health and wellbeing. HeadStrength empowers users to track their daily mood and complete mental health selfchecks — completely anonymously. Based on the user’s results, the app then recommends relevant resources based on their current level of mental health and wellbeing. These resources have been identified by the Australian Defence Force Centre for Mental Health as being relevant to Defence members in Defence.

Using HeadStrength will improve users’ awareness of their mental health over time and empower them to take control of their mental wellbeing. It will help the Defence community understand what they are going through and take the next step on their mental health journey.  

Watch the video here: HeadStrength - Defence Mental Health & Wellbeing Mobile App

1 World Health Organization, 2004, Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice (Summary Report) Geneva: World Health Organization.

Published 01 May 2021

About the author

Andrew Cressie's profile

Andrew Cressie

Director, Digital Transformation

Andrew is a Director in Deloitte’s Digital Practice in Canberra, with over 15 years' experience in digital transformation, focusing on the user experience and service design. He has extensive experience designing and building products and services for both public and private sector organisations.

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