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New partnership to deliver world-first evaluation of app-based mindfulness intervention

Young woman listening to music with earphones

nib foundation today announced an exciting new multi-year partnership with leading Australian mental health and mindfulness provider, Smiling Mind, that will feature the largest evaluation of an app-based mindfulness intervention ever conducted worldwide.

The three-year $750,000 partnership will support the development, delivery and evaluation of the Building Healthy Habits for Healthy Minds home-based mindfulness meditation program, designed to empower Australian adults to take positive, proactive action to look after their mental health every day.

nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, said in the current funding environment where investment in health prevention is scarce, it's vital to understand if new approaches are working and achieving social impact "We believe that robust evaluation is critical for building an evidence base, informing future service delivery and ensuring long term sustainability," Ms Tribe said.

"This grant will enable Smiling Mind to do exactly that by measuring the impact of their app-based program on increasing the protective factors associated with mental health and wellbeing such as social connection, sleep quality, and developing personal coping skills and resilience to deal with the stresses of everyday life," she added.

In another first, the evaluation will be conducted in partnership with an academic university partner, University of Newcastle, and leader in the field of mental health and eHealth program development and evaluation, University of Newcastle Associate Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin. A/Prof Kay-Lambkin is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Health and Medical Research Council and President of the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions. In addition the program will be integrated with Apple's iPhone based research and data collection products.

Smiling Mind CEO Addie Wootten said that with an ongoing, embedded approach providing real-time feedback and continuous data collection, the evaluation provides a unique opportunity for greater understanding about the impact of their work.

"This evaluation will provide not only us, but the entire mental health community, with much needed information about the effectiveness of such an intervention on participant wellbeing and stress as well as the engagement in protective lifestyle factors such as sleep and physical activity," Ms Wootten said.

The Building Healthy Habits for Healthy Minds program will support users to take a pro-active, regular and routine approach to mental health and wellbeing by providing mindfulness based tools that address the specific needs of each adult user.

"Despite great advances in recent years in raising awareness and reducing stigma, far too many Australians still live with poor mental health, with around one million Australian adults experiencing depression and two million living with anxiety in any one year," Ms Tribe said.

"By developing free and accessible tools to help people take care of their mental health, this program will not only help to normalise daily mindfulness based practice, but will also contribute to improved long-term physical and mental health and wellbeing," she added.

The Building Healthy Habits for Healthy Minds program will be available for download in June 2018.