Launching a New Project in 2024

Hope Haven is launching a new project in 2024 to help individuals manage their stress levels using a smartwatch app, a mobile app, and a dashboard. This particular smartwatch, also called a wearable, measures the individual’s stress levels. Hope Haven will use this technology in a 2-year pilot project, focusing on helping individuals currently served by Hope Haven who have difficulties expressing their stress and strong emotions in healthy and helpful ways.

Hope Haven learned about this opportunity through a company called Awake Labs while attending the 2023 Iowa Association of Community Providers Annual Conference (IACP). Awake Labs provides real-time information about individuals’ stress levels. When the wearable senses a heightened stress level on the individual, it sends an alert to the mobile device linked to the wearable. The responder on the mobile device will then answer some questions about the possible environmental, physical, and psychological factors that might be contributing to the increase in stress. The dashboard will track the information from the mobile device to help the team find trends and commonalities in the individual to help others better understand the needs of the individual using the wearable. This technology will provide Hope Haven the ability to teach individuals appropriate coping, relationship, and communication skills needed as a way to intervene before unhealthy behaviors escalate.

This two-year pilot project is funded by Elevance Health, a managed care organization that provides Medicaid health plans to Iowans. Hope Haven hopes to have individuals using the wearables this month. If the wearables prove to be an effective tool and help deescalate behaviors such as self-harming, physical aggression, or speaking in ways that could damage relationships, Hope Haven hopes to secure future funding to continue using the wearables even after the pilot is complete.

The technology used in the wearables is designed to support adults with mental illness or intellectual or developmental disabilities. “I think we can all relate to losing our cool and doing something that we regret,” explained Kimber Patterson, Director of Mental Health. “For some, they can find themselves in this position frequently, which can diminish their quality of life.” The recommended individuals who will use the wearable have varying levels of support from Hope Haven. “We hope that this technology will help those using it learn new ways to communicate and cope with stress in their lives so they can have an improved quality of life,” stated Patterson.

FEATURED BY: Amanda Friedrichsen, Rock Valley Bee

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