The science behind Unmind

Welcome to the Unmind lab. Here you can find out about our psychology team and their work, as well as the experts and prestigious organisations we partner with.

Why we research

Digital mental health tools are a relatively new technology, yet the past decade has seen an explosion in research evaluating their use. Hundreds of studies1,2,3 have now shown that mental health apps can make a real difference to the lives of those who use them, including positive effects on stress, sleep, burnout, depression, anxiety, wellbeing, and job performance.  

But despite this, many research questions remain unanswered, and only 5% of mental health apps4,5 have been evaluated in high-quality studies.

At Unmind, we're committed to reversing this trend. We really care about improving the lives of our users, and that means rigorously evaluating our platform, ensuring it's backed by evidence. The insights we learn from research allow us to continually evolve our product and enhance our users' journeys.

The four pillars of our research mission

Generate robust empirical evidence

To generate an empirical evidence base, we conduct studies that evaluate the impact of our platform, following research best practices along the way.

Continually evolve our product

The findings from our studies help us to continually improve our platform, revealing which features are the most effective and engaging.

Remain at the forefront of research

By committing to research that advances our wider scientific understanding of mental health, we’re using the data and resources available to us for the greater good.

Offer transparency across our methods and findings

We strive to communicate our research methods and findings in a manner that's widely accessible, regardless of what we learn.

Academic partnerships

We work with prestigious academic institutions at the cutting edge of research. Together, we publish studies, validate our product, and further our collective understanding of mental health.

University of Sussex,
School of Psychology
One of the most academically diverse and influential communities of psychologists in the UK, ranking in the top 10 Psychology Schools in the country according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.
University of Cambridge,
The Psychometrics Centre
A leading, multi-disciplinary institute dedicated to cutting edge developments in the theory and practice of psychological assessment, with an emphasis on online environments.

Meet the team

These are the researchers, scientists and professors developing our product and furthering our collective understanding of digital mental health.

Dr Heather Bolton
Head of Psychology, Unmind
Heather is a clinical psychologist with a doctorate in clinical psychology from UCL, and specialist training in CBT at Kings College. Before joining Unmind, she spent a decade working in the NHS, focusing on understanding and treating common mental health problems. Heather now leads Unmind’s Psychology team.
Professor Kate Cavanagh
Professor Clinical Psychology, University of Sussex
Kate is a clinical psychologist and professor of clinical psychology at the University of Sussex, and a leading international expert in digital health. She has over 20 years experience researching computer-aided psychological therapies. Kate collaborates closely with the Unmind research team and serves as Co-Investigator across several efficacy studies.
Marcos Economides, PhD
Principal Researcher, Unmind
Marcos is a health outcomes and clinical research scientist with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCL. He has over seven years of expertise in evaluation and strategy for digital health companies predominantly in the mental health space. As Principal Researcher at Unmind, he leads research studies to evaluate the impact of the platform on mental health outcomes.
Eoin Travers, PhD
Research Scientist, Unmind
Eoin is a cognitive scientist with a PhD in psychology from Queen's University Belfast, and expertise in statistical modelling. Prior to joining Unmind, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, where he studied human decision-making. Eoin works on evaluating and improving how mental health and wellbeing are measured at Unmind.
Rachael Taylor, PhD
Research Scientist, Unmind
Rachael is a research scientist with a PhD in psychological medicine from King's College London. She has experience as a clinical trial manager and a research background in depression. At Unmind, Rachael leads efficacy and client based studies to assess the impact of the Unmind platform.
Luning Sun, PhD
Research Director, Psychometrics Centre, University of Cambridge
Luning is research director of The Psychometrics Centre, University of Cambridge. He completed his PhD in psychology at the University of Cambridge in 2014. Luning's research focuses on new forms of personality and ability assessment that are enabled by the advancement of psychometric theories and techniques.
Rhian Male, MSc
Researcher Coordinator, Unmind
Rhian previously worked as a psychological wellbeing practitioner for the NHS, before gaining a masters degree in clinical neuroscience at UCL. She is now research coordinator at Unmind, where she helps to plan, manage, conduct, and disseminate our research studies and findings. Rhian is also a regular contributor to the Unmind Psychology blog.
Bao Sheng (Aiden) Loe, PhD
Psychometrician, Psychometrics Centre, University of Cambridge
Aiden completed his PhD in psychology at the University of Cambridge in 2018. He has published research related to psychological scales, mental health-related assessments and educational tests using IRT and MIRT models, and is concerned with understanding the intersection of human and machine intelligence. Aiden is an associate editor for the Personality and Individual Differences journal.

Our approach to research

Our research roadmap was developed in collaboration with our academic partners, and comprises these three pillars.

Efficacy and effectiveness studies

We conduct randomised controlled trials designed to evaluate the impact of our platform on the mental health and wellbeing of employees who use it, as well as wider organisational outcomes.

Psychometrics studies

We draw on the latest science behind psychological assessment to make sure our platform features reliable, credible and robust measures of mental health and wellbeing.

Client studies

We work with our clients to evaluate the impact of Unmind post-launch, ensuring that our efficacy findings translate to real-world settings.

Our research principles

At Unmind, we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards of academic rigour, and are guided by the following principles.

01
We conduct research by partnering with academic institutions, allowing us to draw on expertise from world-leading researchers.
02
We support the principles of Open Science. All of our efficacy studies are preregistered on WHO-recognised clinical trial registries, with clearly defined study outcomes and a detailed analysis plan. We believe this is the fairest, more robust way of conducting intervention research.
03
All of our studies require ethical review and approval. This ensures our participants' wellbeing is prioritised, and that we're upholding proper data security standards.
04
We follow formal expert guidelines on the conduct and reporting of intervention research (CONSORT1, SPIRIT2, STROBE3, and relevant extensions4). This ensures our research holds up to the highest academic standards and our publications add value to the wider scientific community.
05
We're committed to combatting publication bias5 by ensuring all of our preregistered studies are submitted to peer-reviewed academic journals without delay, regardless of our findings.

Studies in progress

Our research team are actively working on the following global studies with  our collaborators.

Collaborator
Project
Planning
Ethical review
Data collection
Data analysis
Writing
Peer Review
Collaborator
Project

Feasibility and preliminary efficacy of digital interventions for common mental health problems in working adults: a multi-arm randomised pilot trial

Understanding the use and initial impact of Unmind courses designed to improve stress, anxiety and resilience in employees.
Planning
Ethical review
Data collection
Data analysis
Writing
Peer Review
Collaborator
Project

The Unmind Index: Development and UK validation of a new digital assessment of mental health and wellbeing

Developing and testing the reliability and validity of the Unmind Index, our bespoke mental health and wellbeing assessment, in a UK study population.
Planning
Ethical review
Data collection
Data analysis
Writing
Peer Review
Collaborator
Project

Validation of the Unmind Index digital assessment of mental health and wellbeing in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand

Developing and testing the reliability and validity of the Unmind Index, our bespoke mental health and wellbeing assessment, in a UK study population.
Planning
Ethical review
Data collection
Data analysis
Writing
Peer Review
Collaborator
Project

Feasibility and preliminary efficacy of digital interventions for depressive symptoms in working adults: a multi-arm randomised pilot trial

Understanding the use and initial impact of Unmind courses designed to help employees experiencing symptoms of depression.
Planning
Ethical review
Data collection
Data analysis
Writing
Peer Review
Collaborator
Project

Feasibility and preliminary efficacy of digital tools to improve sleep quality in working adults with poor sleep: a multi-arm randomised pilot trial

Understanding the use and initial impact of audio tools designed to improve sleep in individuals with sleep problems.
Planning
Ethical review
Data collection
Data analysis
Writing
Peer Review
Collaborator
Project

Digital interventions for anxiety and stress in working adults: a real-world, single-arm effectiveness trial

Investigating the real-world impact of Unmind when used by employees experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
Planning
Ethical review
Data collection
Data analysis
Writing
Peer Review

Citations

Why we research
1. Carolan, S., Harris, P. R., & Cavanagh, K. (2017). Improving Employee Well-Being and Effectiveness: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Web-Based Psychological Interventions Delivered in the Workplace. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(7), e271. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7583

2. Lomas, T., Medina, J. C., Ivtzan, I., Rupprecht, S., & Eiroa-Orosa, F. J. (2019). Mindfulness-based interventions in the workplace: An inclusive systematic review and meta-analysis of their impact upon wellbeing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 14(5), 625–640. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2018.1519588

3. Phillips, E. A., Gordeev, V. S., & Schreyögg, J. (2019). Effectiveness of occupational e-mental health interventions: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 45(6), 560–576. https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3839

4. Lau, N., O’Daffer, A., Colt, S., Yi-Frazier, J. P., Palermo, T. M., McCauley, E., & Rosenberg, A. R. (2020). Android and iPhone Mobile Apps for Psychosocial Wellness and Stress Management: Systematic Search in App Stores and Literature Review. JMIR MHealth and UHealth, 8(5), e17798. https://doi.org/10.2196/17798

5. Marshall, J. M., Dunstan, D. A., & Bartik, W. (2020). Apps With Maps—Anxiety and Depression Mobile Apps With Evidence-Based Frameworks: Systematic Search of Major App Stores. JMIR Mental Health, 7(6), e16525. https://doi.org/10.2196/16525

Our research principles
1. http://www.consort-statement.org/
2. https://www.spirit-statement.org/
3. https://www.strobe-statement.org/
4. http://www.consort-statement.org/extensions
5. Al-Durra, M., Nolan, R. P., Seto, E., Cafazzo, J. A., & Eysenbach, G. (2018). Nonpublication Rates and Characteristics of  Registered Randomized Clinical Trials in Digital Health: Cross-Sectional Analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(12), e11924. https://doi.org/10.2196/11924