Digital exchange about mental health has been possible in Switzerland for the first time in a year with “inCLOUsiv“. Together with the Pro Mente Sana Foundation, a project team from the Bern University of Applied Sciences for Health and the Atelier für Kommunikationsdesign (Giessform) developed the platform. How did the first year go? The co-leaders Caroline Gurtner and Marcel Wisler from Pro Mente Sana give an initial summary
The inCLOUsiv platform has been live since March 2020. You started in the middle of the pandemic. What was that like and how has the platform developed in the meantime?
The originally planned test operation with 50 voluntary test users had to give way to a “reality check” in March 2020 due to the Corona pandemic and the associated lockdown. Those responsible decided to make the inCLOUsiv exchange platform available to the general public with immediate effect in order to address urgent questions about mental health in connection with COVID-19. The need for exchange and reliable information on this topic was demonstrated by the daily increase in the number of registered users and up to 10,000 hits on the platform per day. From autumn 2020 onwards, new topics and offers were added; the motto was and still is to “experiment” with different possibilities and to find out in live operation which formats appeal to the target group. Particularly worth mentioning here are the live formats, which offer the opportunity for participation and interaction and appeal especially to younger people. Likewise, inCLOUsiv now offers the possibility of offering congresses and events in an online format, such as the Recovery Kongress Bern or a sports symposium with partners such as BSC Young Boys on the topic of “COVID-19 and competitive sport: stress and risk for the psyche”.
The Corona pandemic, which has continued until now, has fundamentally changed life. Personal contacts are only possible with difficulty. How has this influenced the use of the platform?
The exchange platform inCLOUsiv is unique in Switzerland because of the possibilities for interaction and has been in great demand since its launch, especially by people with a personal experience of illness. In the course of the first year of operation, a community has formed that strengthens and encourages each other and conveys the feeling of “not being alone”. Accompanying research showed, for example, that the communication behaviour of the users on the platform has very positive connotations and that adjectives and nouns such as “good”, “warm”, “courage”, “welcome”, etc. are mainly used.
What are the limits of a digital offer for mental illness? In the meantime, many people are tired of virtual exchange.
From the beginning, the editorial team of inCLOUsiv was able to react very quickly and easily to the changing needs of the users and the offers and formats were adapted every three months. Thus, the platform has recorded a steadily growing number of registered users to this day. The events on inCLOUsiv were also accompanied by communication, with regular newsletters and proactive media work, which in our view contributed significantly to the success of the platform.
What is your personal motivation? What excited us about this project from the beginning was the approach of involving all target groups in the development process from the very beginning. This approach is actually “state of the art” in the development of digital services, but not yet established in the development of health-promoting services. The fact that we are now especially reaching the target group of people with an illness experience shows us that we are on the right track and that we are offering an opportunity to have a say with the platform. For the future, we hope that professionals will also participate more and that we can promote the exchange between the different groups.
What are the future plans for the platform, where should it develop? The inCLOUsiv platform lives primarily from its users and the interactive live formats. These should certainly be further expanded and professionalised. To make the platform self-supporting in the future, we will also continue to develop proven concepts and increasingly seek cooperation with institutions and organisations in the field of mental health. One example is the cooperation with the BUA Bern. Within the framework of student projects, for example, various encounters between artists and users could be arranged that would never have taken place in real life. Virtual encounters in the form of digital “storytelling cafés” are also planned, which were also originally planned physically and will now take place on inCLOUsiv.