S4 - Episode 2 ~ Artificial Intelligence in Mental Health  ~ Frank App


In this episode of the Social Lights Podcast, podcast host and Social Mediology founder Kate vanderVoort chats with Briony Schadegg, co-founder and director of HCI Insights, which is better known as Frank App.

About Briony

Briony wants to make a positive impact on the world and it was this motivation that inspired her to become a police officer.

In her role within the police, Briony undertook several advanced training programs in crime reduction which expanded on areas of criminology and victimology. Over her years of service, she was witness to many instances of the ever-growing mental health issues within the community. To her these people were not just a statistic, she was seeing their faces daily. Due to restriction within the law, she felt limited in her ability to intervene and provide help to those struggling with mental health.

Briony noticed that the mental health services that are available to help people prior to the police getting involved were often failing people and needed rebuilding. This was her primary inspiration behind creating Frank App, building on the design philosophy of fitness trackers and using those concepts to help people improve their well-being. Empowering people to have tangible goals in front of them and give people guidance to resources that could help them make better choices.


“If you know which days you are in a better mood you can start scheduling things in those days to be more productive.” (07:59) 

Discussing with Briony how Frank App began, she shared with us it was through her own struggles with PTSD and how using a prototype of Frank helped her manage the onset of a PTSD episode. Frank works by collecting the natural language of the user to determine their mood and sentiment from the data retrieved. The visual feedback that the app provides nudges users towards constructive behaviours or highlights negatives ones. This nudge allows individual to make more positive choices, the app even provides resources that could be helpful to the user given their real time situation.

Briony goes on to describe that the tool is not just for when you are having a bad day but also for when you are having a great day. Providing users with insight on when they should schedule stressful events or when they are the most productive too when they need to relax and take a break. Awareness of these high and low periods allow users to be more productive with their time and make smarter choices.


“Empowering business to make sure their employees are working in a safe environment.” (18:46)

At the height of COVID everyone was working from home and now even as the world slowly returns to normal, working from home has almost become the norm. Briony explains to us there was a misconception when it came to working from home, the idea that employees were less productive and worked less. New evidence suggests that not only are they working longer hours they are also taking less breaks and no longer getting that social engagement that they would have in a normal workplace. She goes on to explain, how when using a tool like Frank, employers may be able to properly measure the impact of social isolation on their team members. It could be potentially used to assist people in ensuring a positive mindset for working at home as well as ensure that the work/home space is a safe environment.


“Connect users to the community” (30:11)

Briony tells us how her company did not want to reinvent the wheel and compete with other business within the mental health space. Instead they are reaching out and working in collaboration with already established leaders of the mental health community. At the end of the day, they want to be able to connect users of Frank to the mental health community. That might be done through providing the right resources or link, or by nudging individuals in the right direction of making a positive health choice.

Another way that Briony wants to connect with the community is through working with researchers in the field, providing them with the data they need so they can find the answers to many of the lingering questions that surround mental health. From working with researchers possible solutions can be brought forward to innovators and policymakers which in turn will make the community a happier, safer place.

Episode Links

You can find Briony Schadegg, and more on Frank app at:

Keep listening to the upcoming episodes of podcasts by joining in Social Lights Podcast produced by Social Mediology.

You can connect with us on Facebook at @SocialLightsPodcast and find future episodes at socialmediology.com.au/sociallights.

Thanks for your time and stay inspired,

Kate vanderVoort

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