Recently we launched LIFEHACK Labs – Aotearoa New Zealand’s first social innovation lab. It’s focus through the 5 week experience is to kickstart impact projects to improve youth wellbeing through technology.
Why Youth Wellbeing?
As many of you will know, LIFEHACK originated from the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health project which shined a light on the challenges we face in our country with mental illness, stress, anxiety and other issues our young Kiwis face around our country.
Our mandate at LIFEHACK was to explore how technology could act as a presentation or early intervention to help young people access services. The more we unpacked these mental health challenges and spoke with young people around the country through 2013 & 2014’s events, the more we found people wanted to tackle the root causes, as well as helping people manage these challenges and alleviate the suffering.
In early 2014 we heeded that call and drive of our community, and tilted our focus towards Youth Wellbeing. We adopted the 5 Steps to Wellbeing which is widely recognised as leading research (from NEF in UK) to help people build personal resilience and wellness. Resilience is key to how we perceive and react to the world around us, it makes us more able to cope with unexpected changes, more adaptable to unknown futures.
We also recognised that our individual wellbeing is inextricably linked to other parts of the (global) society we live in – whether it’s how our friends & whanau are getting on in life, a partner of ours, or big picture things like climate change, the local transport system, or decisions that are made for us in the Beehive which affect our future. Whilst resilience can get us so far in life, our wellness also depends on us interacting with this collective wellbeing, and feeling like we have the power to shape our own future – a sense of purpose.
It is clear we’re here to work on complex social problems – wicked problems. To tackle these problems which are complex and interlinked, we need new approaches – we have technical and scientific labs to tackle the most pressing technical and scientific problems of our time, we need social labs to tackle our hardest social problems. To that end, we launched LIFEHACK Lab – and applications are open now.
Improving the wellbeing of young people is about working on all the big problems of our time, and unlocking the inherent creativity to be part of the solution in every single person in doing so. We have huge potential in Aotearoa New Zealand, but we’re going to need each and every person if we’re going to solve some of the problems ahead of us.
The world is increasingly digital. Technology plays a role in almost every aspect of all of our lives in some form or another. Whether it’s the mobile phone we use to call our friends, a website where we get information about upcoming events, the radio where we listen to music, a mobile app we use to learn a new language, or one of the newest devices which enable us to use our brain waves to control a digital interface… we have an opportunity to use technology for something more than productivity and efficiencies. Technology ventures around the world are showing us it’s possible to fight cancer, treat depression, get fit, sleep better and more.
If we begin now, we can focus the future of technology on improving human wellbeing and driving positive behaviour change. This is the time of the internet of caring things.
Technology also signals an opportunity to help scale what is working with positive wellbeing strategies to other parts of the country, and indeed the world.