Five from Finland
Mental health and wellbeing
Finnish companies have found supportive ways to treat a variety of mental health issues.Julia Helminen
The importance of mental health awareness has risen to the spotlight in the past few years, and Finnish innovators are extending a helping hand to those going through tough times.
Anyone can experience mental distress at some point in their life, irrespective of age, home country or social status. According to the World Mental Health Report released by World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health needs around the globe are high, but responses are insufficient and inadequate. Focusing attention on these matters, WHO highlights that change is urgently needed.
Below are five Finnish companies on a mission to support mental health and wellbeing with innovative solutions.
Meru Health’s solution is delivered via an app offering a mind-body approach which combines behavioural science, technology and support from remote licensed therapists and psychiatrists.Meru Health
Created by an experienced team of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, Meru Health is a digital therapy platform that offers a clinically proven treatment programme for depression, anxiety and burnout with long-lasting effects. By providing people with efficient digital tools, Meru Health wants to solve the global issue of poor or no access to mental health services and make mental healthcare accessible to everyone in need of it.
With offices in both Helsinki and San Mateo, California, Meru Health is particularly active in the US market, where its programme has seen a handful of deployments. The company envisions it will empower 10 million people suffering from mental health challenges by 2027.
“Our goal since the founding of Meru Health has been to help people get better and stay better for the long term, not just to cope with symptoms," said founder and CEO Kristian Ranta. "Our team is committed and passionate about building and validating solutions for holistic mental healthcare that truly work for people.”
Auntie offers innovative mental health services aimed at improving workplace wellbeing.Auntie / Facebook
Helping people to tackle some of the most common yet highly challenging life challenges, such as feeling stressed out or overworked, Auntie is an award-winning preventive therapy service offering personal video meetings with mental wellbeing professionals and acting as a middle ground between face-to-face psychotherapy appointments and self-help tools.
Auntie’s customer base consists primarily of enterprises, varying from small local companies to large international corporations, seeking professional support for employees in coping with stress, overachieving, lack of motivation and other everyday working life issues, as well as in preventing burnout. What employers find important is that, with Auntie, the progress is always measurable.
“Auntie was founded with the mission of making a concrete impact on mental health and, by extension, the holistic wellbeing of employees,” said CEO Immo Salonen.
As more and more firms worldwide are beginning to focus their employee wellbeing efforts on prevention and early intervention, Auntie’s market is rapidly expanding. The company’s service packages can now be purchased in 25 different languages, and Auntie keeps on strengthening its international presence.
Through the power of art and storytelling, CupofTherapy encourages people to reflect on their lives and find joy.CupOfTherapy / Facebook
This meaningful Finnish brand raises awareness about mental health and wellbeing through heart-warming illustrations of animal characters complete with feel-good phrases. The concept was developed by illustrator and graphic designer Matti Pikkujämsä and psychotherapist Antti Ervasti.
To provide comfort to people who are pushing through adversity or simply in need of some encouragement in their everyday lives, CupOfTherapy is spreading its soothing drawings and uplifting messages through social media, a series of popular books and a wide range of consumer products. Among them are board and card games designed to make it easier to explore the players’ own world of emotions and speak their mind.
“Animals help us tell things that would seem awkward or even angsty if we used human characters,” Pikkujämsä told us a few years ago. “An animal is simultaneously distant yet easy to approach.”
The idea of making mental health visible and bringing up serious topics in a creative, gentle and accessible way has resonated well with audiences worldwide, including in Japan, China, Korea and North America. Moreover, CupOfTherapy is involved in various charitable projects and claims to donate part of its sales revenue to mental health work.
With its groundbreaking technology, this Oulu-based healthtech company offers a safe, certified and research-proven way to relieve physical and mental stress, fight persistent fatigue and anxiety, overcome various sleeping disorders, ease pain, and, ultimately, improve quality of life.
“We have developed a method based on mechanical low-frequency vibrations, which are directed through the whole body,” explained psychotherapist and founder Marco Kärkkäinen. “It has proven to be an astonishingly efficient method of recovery.”
The technology that produces relaxing and beneficial vibrations is used in furniture, such as in mattresses, chaise longues, armchairs and special pods, and can be controlled wirelessly with a mobile application. The app enables users to select a preferred programme for relaxation, activation or recovery, lasting from 10 to 40 minutes.
Neurosonic’s technological approach to both physical and mental wellbeing has sparked interest among psychotherapy and healthcare specialists, private users, as well as companies willing to utilise the innovation to help their employees to shake off work-related stress and fully recharge during breaks.
Researchers at Aalto University hope that with the development of therapeutic video games mental health treatment will gradually reach more and more people.Aalto University / SoihtuDTx
Researchers at Aalto University have taken a novel approach to treating one of the most common mental health disorders by developing an action video game which, alongside drug and other therapies, can help to ease symptoms in patients with depression and improve their cognitive performance.
“In game terms, Meliora is a combination of first-person shooter and strategy game,” explained professor Matias Palva. “The player explores a three-dimensional environment and tries to free the world from the creatures that plague it. Understanding their deeper nature is a key issue in the game.”
An earlier version of the game was tested in a clinical study conducted by the psychiatry department of Helsinki University Hospital, the University of Helsinki and Mental Hub. It was shown that playing the game actively for eight weeks reduced depression symptoms and improved cognitive function.
A recent paper published by a group of Finnish researchers led by psychologist and doctoral researcher at Aalto University Lauri Lukka provides insight into how effective a game-based approach to pursuing health-related aims can be.
“We found that game-based interventions have appealing potential across diverse psychiatric symptoms and for people with prior or existing treatments,” the research concluded.