Novel Idea Wins Mental Health Open Innovation Contest

February 13, 2014 By IdeaConnection

dep1Congratulations to the two winners of the $10,000 open innovation challenge for ideas to increase awareness and use of mental health services for people in developing countries.

The contest was looking for concepts to help people with depression and anxiety disorders and was hosted by Scientists Without Borders, a program of the New York Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson.


Nearly three-quarters of the global cases of mental health disorders occur in low to middle income countries, and the problems are aggravated by such challenges as lack of awareness and education and stigma from communities and individuals. It is clear that solutions are needed and the open innovation contest is one way to meet the problems head on.

Winning Concept

The winners were Veena S. Katikineni, a medical student in the US and Alejandra Leyton, a Bolivian health economist. Together they worked on a concept called “Mhealth for Mental Health”.

Their proposed service uses SMS text messaging to supply relevant information to the the depressed person and their family, friends and carers. The underlying premise that guided the development of this winning innovation is that information coupled with strong emotional support will encourage patients to seek help.

In keeping with the spirit of open innovation the winning concept is available on the Scientists Without Borders website to encourage uptake.

“We drew lessons from our own experiences both in the developing and developed world to consider the barriers to dealing with any kind of personal problem and securing continued social support,” noted Veena Katikineni and Alejandra Leyton in a press release to accompany their win.

“With these ideas, we formed a vision of the ideal discrete support mechanism, and then explored the literature to best apply this vision to the issues of depression and anxiety.”

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