In 2011, the World Health Organisation coined a new definition of health, understood as the ability to adapt and self-manage in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges (WHO, 2011).
This definition represented a major innovation in that it placed the emphasis not so much on the absence of disease, but on the person’s ability to live with it, thanks to the possibility of developing resources that enable them to cope even with situations of irreversible loss of health, as is the case with many chronic diseases.
In the new meaning of health, the focus is thus shifted from biology in the strict sense to the concepts of balance and adaptation and at the same time represents the overcoming of the conception that saw health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being (WHO, 1948).
Certain contextual factors such as the increase in life expectancy and the spread of chronic diseases have long since challenged a conception of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being (WHO, 1948) and have thus led to health being conceived of as a dynamic condition of equilibrium rather than as a state, made possible by the individual’s ability to adapt to the environment and context in a positive manner.
However, it is fair to recognise that the 1948 definition had the merit of definitively decreeing that mental health is necessarily part of the health and well-being of individuals and as such must be the subject of promotion, prevention and treatment strategies.
Indeed, mental well-being is an essential component of the WHO definition of health in that good mental health enables individuals to fulfil themselves, to overcome the stresses of everyday life, to work productively and to contribute to the life of the community.
Mental health is important, but WHO itself recognises that globally, much still needs to be done to give it its rightful place.
If we take a look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in its most recent version, it is explained that a mental disorder is manifested by a cognitive, emotional or behavioural difficulty and tends to cause a significant amount of suffering and maladjustment that manifests itself socially, at work or in other areas of people’s lives.
This definition is the result of a medical-psychiatric approach that conceives the disease primarily as a set of symptoms that manifest themselves in a punctual manner and that can go into remission by choosing the correct treatment programme.
The risk one runs, however, is that of thinking that mental health should only be the focus of attention when faced with a situation of overt pathology.
With the increasingly evident awareness that in the lives of all of us there are constantly innumerable challenges in terms of expectations, interpersonal relationships, and professional commitments, and that it is not possible to eliminate all stressful stimuli, we at Myndoor have chosen to base our project on a model that sees psychophysical well-being as the balance between the aforementioned challenges and one’s ability to manage them as best one can.
With this in mind, we have embraced a conception of stress as the set of physical, mental and behavioural reactions that are activated in the individual in response to a demand for adaptation to new biological, environmental or psychological-relational demands. In this sense, stress is presented as a neutral concept, as a response that is functional to adaptation and that becomes negative when the stimuli are protracted or exceed the individual’s available resources to cope with them.
Recognising the signs of stress is of fundamental importance in order to prevent possible situations in which it could become chronic, leading the person to feel overwhelmed by environmental stimuli and demands, with potentially dangerous consequences for his or her psychological, physical and relational health. Learning to recognise such signs early on allows us to understand their causes and begin to act before the situation precipitates.
In light of the evidence from scientific research that the way people express themselves can reveal various information about their state of well-being in an indirect way.
The goal we set ourselves in Myndoor was to build a technology capable of identifying people’s stress early on from the way they communicate.
MYNDOOR project was created precisely with the aim of helping people to get to know each other better and in this way contribute to improving their lives. We believe that the ability of people to acquire more self-observation and self-regulation skills is essential for the development of a conscious and more sustainable lifestyle.
In this sense, the project aims to support collective economic growth by enhancing and sustaining the quality of life of the people and groups of people involved.