Dr Darren Edwards is a psychologist who specialises in the area of ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’- ACT. He first reached out to AgorIP when he’d created the idea of a video game that incorporated Acceptance and Commitment Therapy into the gameplay.
Having spent many years researching this area of study, and realising it too often affects young people, Darren thought the best way to reach out to those suffering from anxiety and depression, was through an app to help increase accessibility of mental health support within a format for many young people engage in. This new idea is referred to as ‘gamification of mental health’ and has proved successful in reaching struggling young people, who wouldn’t necessarily have reached out due to the stigma that still seems to surround mental health problems.
The idea of the game is to go through the story of a man who has been through a lot of traumatic experiences and has hit rock bottom. The aim of the game is to help him overcome the difficult thoughts and feelings he faces through developing acceptance and values orientation is his life. The game focuses on how you move through trauma and rewards the player when you open to difficult emotional experiences rather than trying to avoid or suppress them. This becomes a key factor in progressing through the game, by using ACT-based skills to address your emotions and understand how to move forward.
Darren came to AgorIP as he had the idea and the logistics behind the app but needed help making it a reality. After submitting an enquiry and being referred to a Technology Transfer Manager, he was approved for support from AgorIP, who are part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. Based at Swansea University’s School of Management, AgorIP helps researchers, entrepreneurs, and inventors take their intellectual property (IP) to the marketplace and make it a commercial success.
AgorIP was able to fund a specialist video game company to help Darren write the game and create the app.
Moving forward, Darren is hoping to develop the app further, creating a safe space online for users to connect and build a community, where users can support one another and encourage each other to be more open and supportive in the area of mental health. Having such an online community can help people who are struggling and encourage them to seek further support more openly rather than keeping things bottled up inside. This could be a fantastic way to facilitate mental health support for those who don’t always know where to look for it, and through a platform they are familiar with.
We look forward to watching the app progress and can’t wait to see how it goes!
The app has been launched on the Apple and Android app stores and is available now.