Belonging, Communities, Mental Health

What good is it if we go to mars if we don´t know how to enjoy the ride.
How are we going to organize ourselves?
Healthy governance inside, healthy governance outside, planetary and inter planetary healthy, sustainable governance.

It all starts with mental health and learning how to be human.
We need to know, we all need to know how to be self directed, self structuring and self reliant.
We need to know how to have fun, when to work and when to rest. What innovation to pursue and which to let sit, simmer, ferment and evolve.

We need to remember three things…

How to imagine
How to play
How to create

And we need to learn how to do that while having fun. Sustainably! Alone and with others. Belonging within and belonging out there, way way out there.

This is the subdomain I am committed to. And I am eager to read your words on this subject.

Thank you for initiating this discussion, @Pilar_Duenas! It’s certainly a worthwhile topic when we think about the future. I think the challenge will be imagining an XPRIZE competition that could improve mental health.

@bnoy, @KateH, can I ask your opinion on this as mental health experts?


I’m not sure if it fits here or should be a separate discussion

Yesterday we had our first meeting with the XPRIZE Health Brain Trust, which is a group of top experts, some drawn from the Community, others who have been involved with XPRIZE in the past, and others yet who are new to us, and one of the topics that came up was creating a deeper sense of empathy, which could then manifest itself in different ways in health care, from a more holistic approach to health to driving positive change in attitudes.

It’s not only about mental health, but I do sense overlap with belonging and community, so that’s why I’m raising it here.

What do you think?

CC @BurstIQ @Roey @ahmerinam

In our second Brain Trust meeting today, the element of trust also came up; both specifically in data and in health care providers generally. It’s not enough to make health care available; people not to trust it in order to use it.


@NickOttens Thank you for summarizing and adding that dialog here. To give an example here, I was recently in conversations with the head of the training program at a nursing school. Empathy-led nursing is something they want to add to their training program but beyond just classroom curriculum. They acknowledged that the empathy gap comes from not having had the learned experiences of the impacted communities. The reason they were thinking about this is that they are getting enough feedback from the fields, especially from the federal and state-level programs supporting impacted communities and nurses not being able to “connect” with the patients that they are supposed to take care of creating lack of trust and hence care gaps. An achievable and do-able slingshot concept that we were exploring was utilizing AI-enabled AR/VR, in potential partnership with Microsoft Hololens, to to simulate scenarios that patients may come from to initiate this journey to inculcate empathy in nurse practice, especially as it pertains to working with impacted communities. Like most of innovation, they ran into internal budget and funding hurdles even though Microsoft was likely to provide some funding to prop up such a solution.

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I agree - it’s not just about mental health; it’s about creating a desire to promote the well-being of someone else. This is a massive undertaking, but what I was thinking of is how we create a challenge that aims to foster a cultural shift towards greater empathy. Increasing empathy will have downstream impacts of reducing bias in care delivery, increase the development of innovations that address underrepresented groups, and would even address some of the more systemic challenges to health equity, like structural racism and apathy towards global conflict.


I imagine that in different countries and different communities, the roots of mistrust are also different, which makes it hard, or impossible, to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution.

I’m thinking of vaccine hesitancy as an example. Here in the Netherlands, there are essentially two groups who refuse to get vaccinated: orthodox Protestants, who refuse all vaccines, and secular people who are skeptical of the COVID vaccine in particular, because they’ve read conspiracy theories on the Internet. You would probably have to approach those very differently.

We don’t have to think of potential breakthroughs to bring about such a shift in attitudes yet; we’ll get to breakthrough solutions, and prize ideas, in a few months.

Here I would like us to think about how - if at all - such a shift could be measured, though. If eventually we did design a prize around this, we’d need to come up with parameters for determining the winner(s).

I’d like to add a few more thoughts on this topic.

tl;dr - If science can explain it, then science can also solve it.

  1. The Semmelweis reflex or “Semmelweis effect” is a metaphor that explains the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs, or paradigms. Rejection or suspicion of anything new is innately a human trait. Ignaz Semmelweis’ battles in helping the doctors understand the value of washing their hands after working on cadavers before delivering baby’s is well-documented and a lesson for us all. This is a problem that we still face today with adoption of new technologies.

  2. Fuzzy Trace Theory helps us understand how false memories and disinformation are planted in human minds to where they take on their own life and turn into alternative “facts” and a belief system so strong that any evidence contrary to that belief is immediately rejected as fake. From politics to corporate PR to social media to Psyops have utilized the techniques to create the sense of “othering” as a way to achieve their own intended benefits (anti science and anti vaccine movements can be understood within this paradigm.

From Wikipedia: " FTT posits that people form two types of mental representations about a past event, called verbatim and gist traces. Gist traces are fuzzy representations of a past event (e.g., its bottom-line meaning), hence the name fuzzy-trace theory, whereas verbatim traces are detailed representations of a past event. Although people are capable of processing both verbatim and gist information, they prefer to reason with gist traces rather than verbatim. This implies, for example, that even if people are capable of understanding ratio concepts like probabilities and prevalence rates, which are the standard for the presentation of health- and risk-related data, their choice in decision situations will usually be governed by the bottom-line meaning of it (e.g., “the risk is high” or “the risk is low”; “the outcome is bad” or “the outcome is good”) rather than the actual numbers.[5] More importantly, in FTT, memory-reasoning independence can be explained in terms of preferred modes of processing when one performs a memory task (e.g., retrieval of verbatim traces) relative to when one performs a reasoning task (e.g., preference for reasoning with gist traces)."

  1. Persuadability and Hyper-Segmentation: In marketing science persuadability or uplift models in conjunction with hyper or micro segmentation are used to nudge people towards taking an action that they are likely to not take on their own. These methods have been perfected in case of elections (e.g., the whole Cambridge Analytica fiasco with Facebook). In uplift modeling, the goal is to identify and segment out those that are promoters and likely to take an action without an intervention, vs. those that are likely to take an adverse action if intervened (let them sleep, don’t knock on their doors and ask them to vote as they will vote against you, etc.), and the large group in the middle with various levels of persuadability along with characteristics identified from their behaviors that help determine what types of topics will persuade them to act in your favor (e.g., when talking about climate change, talk to those on the left from environmental stewardship angle vs. talk to those on the right from energy independence perspective). Since this entire field is based on mathematics with relentless statistical testing and outcomes measurement, the impact of each tactic and action is directly measurable, which can be rolled into the competition design if we chose to move this theme forward.

So, what if we could use these methods (in addition to many other frameworks) towards combating misinformation, build trust in science and drive adoption and acceptance, and develop intentional means to directly address the empathy crisis and othering (reflected partially in polarization) that our society is facing. Unchecked and unaddressed, it will continue to rot the core of our society inside-out.

I love how you invite us to simmer it down to a sentence. Thank you @NickOttens for reading and understanding me.

Love what you are bringing to the table here. Empathy is at the core, I believe with a couple more awesome words. Will continue reading you all… @ahmerinam what you share is very interesting to me, for I design AR games for human wellbeing. Both individually and in communities. I would love to learn more about the experience you are sharing. @BurstIQ I love the distinction you are making. I agree on the importance of mental health as a part of integrative wellbeing! Awesome feedback!

@ahmerinam, how – concretely – would we harness these insights and experiences for good? As you point out, they’ve already been utilized for, um, less notable purposes. I’m wary that anything that attempts to centrally change behavior on a mass scale will be mistrusted, and perhaps rightly so?

@DrCatherineBall, this also touches on the discussion we had in the Brain Trust meeting. Please feel free to weigh in!

Agreed! Trust is key when it comes to creating wellbeing for ourselves as individuals and communities.

Hi @mhackett,
As a mental health expert, you might have inputs to share on this topic.

It is a very interesting idea to leverage AR/VR tech into this complex scenario. My mind automatically goes to the possibility of a game that with immersive experiences can close the empathy gap and build trust.

I really appreciate the feedback around the concept I was choosing. I agree wellbeing is a better one. I disagree on the scope, I believe promotion of wellbeing outside of institutions that work to better it is key.

Societies are made up first of individuals. For the individual one of the most debilitating things in the mental health sphere is psychological trauma. So many people across all cultures and countries are affected today. It can manifest as a result of Abuse, War, Natural Disasters, etc. Psychological & Emotional Trauma damages the positive quality of life and productivity of anyone suffering from it. To include homelessness. After studying the matter I found that work on the clinical use of psychedelics such as Psilocybin, MDMA, Ayahuasca, to name a few, have been shown to be efficacious in the treatment and resolution of PTSD and other deep seated emotional trauma. There are mostly governmental and corporate regulatory issues barring these medicines from being used but work is being done and documented. They may provide a means to give help to suffering people world wide in a far shorter time than years of talk therapy and anti-depressants, that have potentially dangerous side affects. Has anyone thought of somehow exploring this formally? The information is out there. Has anyone considered doing any work in that arena? Identifying future research that could be done or is being done? Would anyone want to include it in their Xprize work.

I’ve also seen studies showing a positive impact of ketamine on patients suffering depression.

It’s a tricky subject, regulation-wise, and although an XPRIZE can’t change the law by itself, it can put pressure on law- and policymakers.

So perhaps a prize to measure mental health – which is one of the four prizes for health we’re designing in the Global Visioneering program – could help. What if we could quantify mental health, as well as the impact of interventions (whatever those might be)?