Designing for mental wellbeing: towards a more holistic approach in the treatment and prevention of mental illness

Anja Thieme, Jayne Wallace, Thomas D. Meyer, Patrick Olivier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


To date, HCI for mental health has primarily responded to challenges in the treatment of mental illness, with a focus on therapy access and engagement. However, approaches to improving and protecting people's mental wellbeing have received less attention. Prompted by recent discussions in Western Healthcare and Psychology, we argue for a more holistic approach to promoting mental health that expands the field's focus to include strategies for enhancing mental wellbeing. A closer consideration of mental wellbeing can increase the effectiveness of mental health interventions, help in preventing mental illness and relapse, and extend our knowledge as to how we can support people to flourish as individuals and enhance their quality of life more generally. Our aim is to encourage more research on positive aspects of mental health in the treatment and care provision of people with mental health problems, and to support preventive approaches. To this end, the paper provides a comprehensive definition of mental wellbeing as positive emotional, psychological and social health; presents a review of HCI literature illustrating how the field is beginning to respond to the mental wellbeing agenda; and proposes avenues for future design and research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish HCI 2015 - Proceedings of the 2015 British HCI Conference 2015
Subtitle of host publicationJuly 13-17, 2015 Lincoln, Lincolnshire, UK
EditorsShaun Lawson, Patrick Dickinson, Patrick Olivier, Derek Foster, Conor Linehan, Ben Kirman, Dan O’Hara, Sue Jamison-Powell, Obinna Ajuruchi, Duncan Rowland, Abigail Durrant, Rachel Clarke
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450336437
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventBritish Computer Society Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 2015 - Lincoln, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jul 201517 Jul 2015


ConferenceBritish Computer Society Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 2015
Abbreviated titleHCI 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Digital design
  • Ethics
  • Healthcare
  • Mental health technology
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Positive psychology

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