The world's largest real-time mental health survey

Mental Health


The problem

Mental health is intensely personal. Various campaigns and programs attempt to nudge individuals towards seeking help, yet struggle to accomodate for the individual themselves. How do we better understand how who we are, affects how we feel?

The solution

spur: designed and launched a global initiative to track individual mental wellbeing through a custom smartphone app and public campaign, reaching more than 11,000 people across the globe with 1 million+ data points.

Project updates

How is the World Feeling?'s data has been employed by the likes of Black Dog Institute and Beyondblue in mental health research and provided a model for targeted, demographic specific mental health programs.

The Problem

Suicide is a global problem

Suicide is a worldwide epidemic with over 800,000 men and women taking their own lives each year. That's more than breast cancer, violence, war or leukaemia. 

Poor mental health is a major challenge both socially and economically. A major contributing factor to poor mental health and suicide is a feeling of isolation. A major problem for mental health campaigns and support organisations is the lack of real-time data and research on the triggers and causes of these feelings.

The Solution

Real-time data

spur: developed "How is the World Feeling?" - an app for smart devices that was the world’s largest, real-time mental health survey. The app tracked participants’ emotions throughout the day, as well as their activities and demographic data. This data was (and now remains) a free, open-source database.

To accomplish this, spur: undertook significant design work – including development of brand identity, UX and UI of the app, website, database, PR, and communications strategy. The campaign was seen around the world and covered in media ranging from the Sydney Morning Herald to The Times of India, The Atlantic, 9 to 5 Mac, and ABC News.

The Process

Finding an engaging hook

1 · Approach

spur: has longed believed that "what's easy to do is easier not to do".

Just because you create an app, doesn't mean anyone will actually use it. Therefore, the project was wrapped in the question of "How is the World Feeling?" - that although the core purpose of the app would be to for users to log their emotions, the core "hook" would be for users to be able to see in real-time how the rest of the world was feeling.

2 · Design

Frequent, yet quick, interactions with the app are key to the user experience design. The collection of rich data is critical, yet so is the users' propensity to keep re-engaging with the app. Therefore, after an initial sign-up where users (anonymously) provide demographic information, the app would only ask three questions at regular intervals: "What emotion are feeling?", "How intensely are you experiencing that emotion?", and "What are you doing right now?". These interactions take c.10 seconds to complete.

The Impact

Globally used data

The project had 11,000 participants from 104 countries logging 60,000 submission in 9 languages. The data is now in use by governments, NGOs, and businesses around the world including Blackdog Institute, Beyondblue, QUT, Georgetown University, and many more.

The data is still available for download at How is the World Feeling?

project team

Lee Crockford
Lee Crockford
William Smith-Stubbs
William Smith-Stubbs

William Smith-Stubbs

Benjamin Moriarty
Benjamin Moriarty

Benjamin Moriarty

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