Our research
Mental Health Avatar

A key focus for the Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre (M-RIC) is how we can improve mental health using new digital technologies.

A health avatar is a digital ‘twin’ for your heath.  It is a virtual (software) object that, with your consent, tries to faithfully represent your health status using a variety of sources of information.  For example, your avatar can store pieces of data from consultations with your healthcare providers that you or other professionals might find useful to help you manage your health.  This could be a new medication you’re prescribed by your doctor or test results that you and other professionals would need to be aware of.  Your avatar can also ask you questions to find out how you’re feeling and interact with hardware devices — such as wearable health monitors — to build a bigger picture of the rhythms of everyday life and how they affect you.

Our Mental Health Avatar work package aims to create a personalised avatar that will be your unique digital twin. With your permission, it will combine relevant parts of your health records with data about your lifestyle such as daily sleep and activity patterns alongside information about physical and mental symptoms that affect you. Your Mental Health Avatar helps collect information that is not normally captured in our current ways of working that could be the key to identifying the most appropriate or new treatments and help improve your care.

Your Mental Health Avatar can then be used by you as well as your healthcare teams to better understand your mental health and wellbeing and help direct your treatment in the ways that most help you.

Over time, we aim to use and analyse data from groups of Mental Health Avatars to help the NHS identify the common patterns of mental health difficulties. This will enable us to have better descriptions of people’s difficulties and then ultimately re-design services and offer better treatments.

Prof Dan Joyce, Lead Investigator, explains more about our mental health avatar research


Where can I find out more information and how can I get involved?

We welcome involvement and interest from service users, members of the public, healthcare, academia, the third sector and industry in our research. To find out more visit our get involved page or contact us.

Using personalised health and lifestyle data to better understand mental health