National | Technology

Māori-owned start-up seeks to use AI to address decline in mental wellbeing

New app Wellstream is aimed at helping users improve their mental health. Photo / Supplied

Wellstream - a new mental wellbeing application launching next month - will enable everyday users the ability to map, measure and improve their mental health.

WellStream works by recording daily activities and influences in a user’s life and measuring their effects on mental wellbeing over time via a simple one-minute daily quiz. The application allows users to self-generate and track an unlimited amount of daily activity, including relationships, diet, exercise, lifestyle choices and workplace influences.

These inputs create a baseline for the user that shows peaks and declines based on how they’re registering their emotional responses within the daily quiz.

This enables users to not only measure the direct impact of these influences and make informed decisions about the actions they take to improve their lives, it also enables users to see trends and better predict their future lifestyle choices.

Currently in its first capital raise with funding earmarked to achieve further product market, Wellstream fits as well as AI integration and development. By incorporating AI the software will be able to become self-directed in assisting users by searching supportive resources that may not be top of mind.

WellStream chief executive Officer Ben Blain said: “WellStream’s mission is to create a world that puts better wellbeing within reach for everyone, especially for our younger generations. In 2020 due to Covid, the mental wellbeing and happiness of the Western world fell by over 25 per cent. This drop was most severe for people under the age of 30. In Aotearoa New Zealand, over 50 per cent of the workforce suffers from burnout.”

The referred research was conducted by Sapien Labs in their Mental Health of the World Reports across 2020, 2021 and 2022 and included over 100,000 individual responses from core Anglosphere countries: NZ, Australia, Canada, Ireland the UK and the US.

Blain continued, “We don’t know what we don’t know - this often leads to people feeling uncertain about what options they have to help themselves. By incorporating AI into the platform, this will enable people to feel more supported as the software intuitively searches for the options most likely to boost their wellbeing.”

WellStream’s prototype was developed in 2019 and it was formally established as a social enterprise in 2020 by entrepreneur Blain (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Porou) and software architect Michael McKenna, who is WellStream’s chief technology officer. Alpha and beta testing consecutively occurred across 2021 and 2022, with the formal launch upcoming in July.