The thing is, we all get down once in a while. However, some people’s woes and worries are more serious, becoming diagnosed as depressed, classed as a mental health issue- which is more common amongst us than you think. If this is the case, and the complex situation you find yourself in, then Tomo is your newest best friend. Tomo is here to help.
The easy to use mobile application tracks and manages the habits that keep you healthy, positive and productive. Where you become part of a supportive community where you help others, as much as you help yourself, creating a positive energy effect. Tomo application works as a chat bot- which is based on psychological and behavioural research, however with the users as part of the community it lends itself to continued updates, and strategic implementations. With the current situation on healthcare for mental health, it’s only fitting that an invention such as Tomo was created- the discreet, downloadable way to de-stigmatise the social status, via technology.
With mobile apps comes a lot of research, planning, testing and developing, let alone vast and complex knowledge on mental health. This is where the creators come up trumps; Fahad Al Saud and Gus Booth-Clibborn, they are specialists with medical experience, business and research as well as tech start-up knowledge, meaning they not only have significant insight to create this life changing creation, but have the experience too. With the tech market becoming more multifaceted and diverse with niche markets, and the healthcare systems over-stretched, Tomo is designed to ease the strain and the stigma- becoming a part of everyday life, giving you balance, and a peace of mind knowing you are never alone.
With Tomo currently running trials, it was the perfect opportunity for us to discuss the application in more detail.
Tomo is a chatbot, based on psychological and behavioural research, and you are testing early versions, how long is the studying phase?
We see research as an on-going process, rather than a phase of development. Our current testing is split between typical user testing, where we see what people like about the app itself, and external scientific research, looking at how using the app affects behaviour and mental health. Currently our research is aimed at benchmarking our app against existing therapeutic tools and techniques. In the future, that will shift towards looking at new things we can do and discover.
Tomo is available on iTunes to download for free, why did you choose iOS system over Android?
It came down to cost and simplicity- iOS devices are much less diverse than android devices, and so it takes much less maintenance to keep the app working. For the early phases of development, when we were constantly changing things and testing them, that was a big advantage.
Will it be available on Android in the future?
Absolutely! All the important parts of Tomo have already been built to be Android-compatible. We would still need to tweak, test, and maintain the Android version separately of course, and these things are never as simple as one hopes.
Studies show in-app advertising will be the driving force within mobile growth over the coming years; do you plan on implementing this? No we don’t. Our app is a bit of an anomaly- a lot of the typical ‘best practices’ in app design are actually the opposite of what we need to do. For example, Tomo’s user experience is designed to push a user out of the app and into the real world as soon as possible. Our goal is to have users interacting with the app for very short periods, a couple of times a day. Advertising requires users to spend time consuming content, and so isn’t compatible with our user experience.
Tomo is two things: It’s a ‘chatbot’- an app that talks to you, and learns about your mental health, as well as Tomo being a community- each time you complete a habit, Tomo asks you to anonymously share a photo of that achievement with other users.
How do you plan to raise the awareness and show the convenience and its user-friendliness, towards depression and mental health sufferers?
We are positioning Tomo as a broader mental wellbeing support tool that incorporates poor mental wellbeing as part of the spectrum. Everyone has a ‘mental health’, just like everyone has a physical health, and both need maintaining. We’re approaching large corporates and HR consultancies as well as mental health clinics and charities to get Tomo into peoples’ hands.
Depression is a mental illness but many won’t accept it as such, what is your strategy to fight this?
Firstly by positioning Tomo as a mental wellbeing app, then making sure that Tomo works for people both when they’re doing well, to maintain their wellness, and when they’re unwell. The app itself works to reduce stigma and shame by encouraging people users to support others going through the same struggle. We try to communicate this to our users as well. It’s important for someone unwell to recognise that some days, just getting out of bed is an achievement. By sharing and celebrating that achievement, you’re acknowledging it for yourself, but also helping others come to terms and accept that.
Can you explain the key features, for example; if I was looking for help, what are the steps within?
Tomo is two things: It’s a ‘chatbot’- an app that talks to you, learns about your mental health and lifestyle, and helps you create and maintain the habits that keep you healthy.
Tomo is also a community- each time you complete a habit, Tomo asks you to anonymously share a photo of that achievement with other users. This isn’t a social network though – you can’t like or follow anyone, nor can you save or download photos. The users who see your photo are a small number of randomly selected people who happen to be online. This is a virtual buddy system, facilitated through an app. Every user is sharing with the community, checking in with each other, and celebrating all the little, usually invisible steps forward.
Tomo isn’t a replacement for talking therapy or medication, so if a user tells Tomo that they’re really struggling, Tomo will suggest places they can get more appropriate support.
The launch is in late 2017, is there a confirmed date yet?
We’ve just soft-launched the app on the UK app store, so that we can get broader feedback from users, and make it easier for research partners to access. The app is still a research product for the moment, but we’re looking at a full commercial launch later this year.
You can download Tomo application for free via iTunes for iOS.