Mental well-being is a big issue across the world. In Singapore, mental well-being costs nearly $16 billion a year, accounting for about 2.9 percent of the nation’s GDP, while in Malaysia, a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health found that one in three Malaysian adults aged 16 and above has a mental health condition.

Organizations and businesses aren’t the only ones affected, and caregivers are at risk. A study in Singapore revealed that 72 percent of mental health care caregivers felt exhausted, and three in four needed temporary separation from the people they cared for.

The pandemic shined the spotlight on mental well-being and helped chip away at the stigma. This has also resulted in tech advancements in the space. Even as tech improves, we believe the human connection should always be the underlying foundation that guides the way. Here are some of the touchpoints in the space.

Mental well-being touchpoints we see so far

Some touchpoints connect individuals to healthcare providers. Telehealth solutions have come a long way, and are a prime example of this. Medical records, medications, prescriptions are treatment plans are synced across the board. This has reduced the risk of spreading contagious diseases while cutting down on travel and waiting times, making it especially helpful for people living in remote areas.

Other touchpoints connect individuals with themselves. Across wearables and thousands of wellness apps, we see them cover a few bases. Some apps promote a mindful, active lifestyle, covering meditation, fitness, and yoga. Others track sleep and nutrition and provide assessments and information to help people get through the hard times. These options provide individuals with different gateways that could lead them to seek professional help.

The Village approach to well-being – an untapped touchpoint

We humans are social creatures, and close relationships are integral to our survival. A research article cited that 308,849 individuals across 148 studies revealed humans with relatively strong social relationships increased their likelihood of survival by 50 percent. The CDC has reported that loneliness and social isolation significantly increase a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, rivaling smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

Despite the growth of social media and the many connections people have on the platforms, an international study has shown that people using social media to maintain their relationships feel lonelier. Social media facilitates social contact, but it doesn’t meet the connection quality of those who are on it for that reason.

We propose The Village approach to well-being. The Village consists of close friends and family that each individual has. A tight-knit group with strong bonds. Everyone in The Village is trusted to be open, honest, and proactive in their thoughts, feelings, and interactions with one another. The Village approach to Wellbeing – a manner that possesses the potential to support the individual’s physical and mental well-being.

The touchpoint connecting the individual with their Village can be improved. With The Village approach to care as the framework, we can vastly enhance the well-being space and the mileage from the well-being solutions we have.

Though professional help is readily available, and society is more open, factors such as cost, timing, and availability of therapists prevent people from reaching out. There are also concerns regarding having treatment on official records that dissuade people from seeking help, fearing the ramifications it could have on their professional lives.

The Village approach to well-being involves helping individuals identify and curate their Villages. The need to share sensitive data points safely, and privately, is essential to encourage proactiveness and engagement. With the previous touch point, the individual has to either deal with their challenges alone or seek professional help. The Village becomes a sounding board and support group, serving as scaffolding to proactively help individuals with those challenges. This middle ground can identify and resolve issues earlier which takes a heavy load off caregivers at home, and the healthcare system.

Everyone has a different baseline. A video from Norwich Football Club for World Mental Health Day shows how the signs can be hard to spot, even for close ones. With curated Villages, the individual can be forthcoming and honest, allowing accurate assessments to gauge their moods and mental states. The individuals in a Village can share how they feel, and others can share their observations of how the individuals feel as well, to see the difference and gain perspectives. Notifications can be sent when there are changes in the individual’s mood for the Village to intervene and support.

The Village approach to care can also be a counterbalance to social media. People on social media tend to share the parts of their lives they want people to see – the wins and the highlights, this has led to pressures that result in a negative effect on mental health. The Village provides a forum to listen with intent and engage in real conversations, and a safe space to share the losses or the lowlights, normalizing the daily challenges and overcoming them.

Ultimately, through the village, the individual will have access to their accountability partners for their well-being and deepen their connections through activities, community events, and multiple touchpoints in the real world.

Tech and the lifelong journey of mental well-being

As tech improves, it is essential to know its place and context for our mental well-being – to support and enhance human connection, not replace it.

We should also look at mental well-being tech and The Village beyond a solution and preventive measure. For high-at-risk individuals, The Village is a safety net, for individuals who are doing well, the village is a trampoline. No matter where anyone is at, it should always be worked on. Professional athletes and high-performing individuals know the value of accountability partners, no matter where anyone is in life, mental well-being can and should always be worked on.

We must be wary of bad tech, and how much of our bandwidth it can occupy. Ironically, the success marker of good tech for mental well-being in the future could be a solution where anyone can be a user and act as a catalyst for human connection so everyone uses it as little as they need to.

Shane Muller is a businessman with a group of ventures, having started his entrepreneurship at the age of 10. His unwavering commitment to community impact is evident through his involvement with his non-profit organization – The Destiny Foundation.

Shane is also the Founder and CEO of the mental wellness app, SafeWatch®, and the pioneer of The Village Approach to Wellbeing(™), aimed to make mental wellbeing and resilience a close-knit community effort.

Shane seeks to inspire both current and future generations of entrepreneurs and emerging business leaders, motivating them to work collectively toward creating a positive impact. He firmly believes that by combining passion with purpose and displaying relentless perseverance, a brighter future can be forged for ourselves, and those around us. For more information visit

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