Help4Mood – a flexible solution for supporting people with depression in the community across Europe

Maria Wolters, Luis Ferrini, Juan Martinez-Miranda, Helen Wright Hastie, Chris Burton, The Help4Mood Consortium

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Help4Mood is a system for supporting the treatment of people with major depression in the community under the supervision of a clinician. Help4Mood consists of three main components: (a) a Personal Monitoring System that tracks activity and sleep, (b) a Virtual Agent that interacts with the patient and collects mood and psychomotor data, and (c) a Decision Support System that interprets incoming data, plans the Virtual Agent’s sessions with the patient, and summarises findings for patient and clinician. Sessions with the Virtual Agent are mediated by a 3D avatar who is shown as a face and shoulders. The system will be piloted in the UK, Spain, and Romania. The system is currently under development; first evaluations will take place in early 2012. User requirements were established through literature reviews and focus groups with clinicians and patients (n=10 across all three sites). A recurrent theme was configurability. In this paper, we describe the design elements that will make Help4Mood easy to adapt to the needs of different patients, clinicians, and healthcare trusts and research organisations. Organisations deploying Help4Mood will be able to choose a questionnaire for monitoring progress from a set of pre-implemented standardised instruments. They can also add educational material, brief exercises based on commonly used manuals and information material, and site-specific crisis plans. All clinicians using Help4Mood with their patients need to do is enter basic patient data, if this cannot be transferred from an existing Electronic Health Record. They may also want to enter patient-specific coping strategies. Patients can extensively configure the look and feel of the Virtual Agent. This includes the interaction style (formal versus friendly) , the visual style of the application, and the appearance of the avatar. They can adapt session length to their mood and stamina and opt out of activities. We expect that this extensive configurability will be essential to uptake of and adherence to Help4Mood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Telemedicine and eHealth Updates: Knowledge Resources
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of Med-e-Tel 2012
EditorsMalina Jordanova, Frank Lievens
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameMed-e-Tel Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1998-5509


  • depression
  • telemedicine
  • monitoring
  • virtual agent


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