Brain in hand - personal technology for independant living

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Sam from Kirklees experiences mental health issues. A range of situations can raise her anxiety levels, which has led to long periods when she has been absent from work. She accesses support from the Community Links Engagement and Recovery (CLEAR) service. To help achieve her goal to return to work, the team gave her Brain in Hand, as they felt it would help to develop her confidence, motivation and self-reliance.

Brain in Hand is a personalised on demand support service that Sam can access from her mobile phone. It gives Sam easy access to her own personal reminders, notes and coping strategies, plus she can alert the team at CLEAR to get in touch and give extra help when she needs it most.

One big area of anxiety for Sam is train travel; the prospect of a train being late or busy causes Sam significant anxiety. To overcome this, Sam uses her Brain in Hand. She entered into the software all her anxieties associated with a commute to work and for each, she added her best coping strategies; those she know will help her to get through the situation, but can often forget in the moment.

So now, if she is on a train that is particularly noisy or if she is surrounded by people; when she feels her anxieties heightening, instead of panicking, she takes out her phone and looks at her coping strategies on Brain in Hand. It reminds her to take a few deep breaths and also suggests she plays a word game that she has on her phone. This distracts her from the situation and helps her to calm down.

When first using Brain in Hand, her diary was packed with problems and coping strategies to help with everything. But by constantly checking her Brain in Hand for solutions, they became automatic for her, and she now can recall what to do to overcome her anxieties independently.

She still makes a note of her anxiety levels on Brain in Hand three times a day, as it gives her the discipline to take a moment to be mindful of how she is feeling, which she finds very grounding and helps her to look after herself. The ability to press a button and receive help at any time from CLEAR also makes her feel safe, knowing there’s back-up.

Four months since starting using Brain in Hand, Sam is looking after herself more and has the confidence to go out and do things she wouldn’t have done before. She has returned to work and has also being discharged from CLEAR. She feels like the person she used to be before she got ill.
Sam was anxious about losing the support from the team at CLEAR, but keeping Brain in Hand, Sam feels that her step down from support has been gradual. She says “My support didn’t suddenly stop and leave me on my own; I still have my buddy in my pocket.”

Talking about Brain in Hand she says “I like Brain in Hand as it’s on my phone, which I take everywhere with me. I use it when I get stressed or anxious. It’s like having a helping hand in your pocket. Having Brain in Hand has helped my confidence, I know I can go out and do things. Without Brain in Hand I don’t think I would have the confidence to get on the train and so be able to get into work. I would never have dreamt of doing that before.”