Mental health problems are among the leading causes of early retirement in many countries, leading to significant economic losses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental disorders are among the top public health challenges in the WHO European Region, affecting about 25% of the population every year (source: WHO, 2015).

There is a strong societal stigma attached to mental illnesses, including depression. The fear of being excluded and discriminated against because of the condition prevents individuals from seeking help.

In addition, there is a lack of human resources to provide personalised support to patients with mental health issues. The pandemic has also triggered a higher need for mental health assistance, which increased the gap between demand and supply.

These circumstances pose a significant problem for businesses. They may result in a fall in productivity, hinder financial results and dramatically extend and complicate crisis recovery for the whole EU. To make matters worse, remote working caused by the pandemic made it impossible to support employees’ mental state through regular face-to-face meetings and conversations, and otherwise support employees with traditional methods. The industry needs new solutions to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) provide comprehensive assistance to their employees in the mental health domain.

What is the current situation/existing inefficient solution?

There is a lack of holistic solutions in mental health treatment which

  • empower patients and their loved ones to help them proactively facilitate treatment success with an effectively connected full professional care team
  • empower SMEs to assist their employees

Due to this, mental health issues are detected too late, which leads to more complex treatment and increased costs.

Stakeholders affected by this problem

Individuals with mental health diseases, their families and friends, healthcare professionals (general practitioners, psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists), enterprises and their HR teams.


How will the solution change the lives of the beneficiaries?

The solution could make mental health disease management more effective. Different tools could assist employers in supporting and protecting their employees’ mental health. On a broader scale, creative approaches decreasing public anxiety could contribute immensely towards the recovery from the crisis.

How will the solution impact European Industry?

This solution will drive the industry towards adopting higher mental health care standards in businesses, ensuring the transition to comprehensive mental health treatment and quality care. It will improve social and living standards and promote good working conditions.

What are some of the actions that could be taken to solve this problem?

Smart solutions based on data and behavioural analysis could uncover deteriorating mental states or various hazards to mental health, such as anxiety and burnout. Solutions could provide a way to connect all stakeholders to support successful treatment outcomes and return to work. Solutions may also increase the general awareness of the mental health topic and encourage people experiencing some of these issues to seek assistance. 

What are the technical methods that could be used to tackle the challenge?

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, wearables, telemedicine, augmented reality, VR, etc.

Technical and non-technical specific requirements for the solution?

The solution must be aligned with EU legislation. Particular attention must be paid to privacy, fairness and bias.

Support for the teams tackling this challenge

Janssen can provide expert advice based on their significant experience in dealing with depression. In addition, Janssen plans to carry out a workshop in the second half of May to gather additional insights from stakeholders (medical practitioners and solution providers) about the practical needs of depression patients and their care teams. The results of this workshop will be shared with participants as well. 

Minddistrict will provide expert advice on mental health issues (anxiety, burnout and other work-related issues) and insights into how e-health is used to trigger behavioural change and empower people to master their own wellbeing in a self-help or blended care setup..

Datasets available for the hackathon

Janssen will provide data for depression prevalence originating from Estonia that can be transformed into a mock dataset for the participants. Minddistrict will provide data on how customers use their e-health application and how they drop out of using it.

Post-hackathon support

The challenge partners will support the winning team with follow-up mentorship and advice to help them develop and pilot their solution.

About the challenge partner

Janssen Pharmaceuticals is a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Beerse, Belgium and owned by Johnson & Johnson. It focuses on areas of medicine where it can make the most significant difference: cardiovascular and metabolism, immunology, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, oncology and pulmonary hypertension.

Minddistrict is an e-health platform with an extensive catalogue of online tools to support individual’s route to recovery through technology, all the way from prevention to aftercare. Healthcare organisations use the platform to provide digitally enabled therapy to their clients. In the last year, Minddistrict has helped more than 200,000 users across 8 countries to achieve lasting change.