Company developing game to help people tackle depression

Computer games are used across a range of activities
Computer games are used across a range of activities

A YOUNG Milton Keynes company hopes to produce computer games that can help people with mental health problems.

Pervasive Technology Lab, based in Acorn House, Midsummer Boulevard, is a two-year-old non-profit community interest company run by Dr David Haniff.

The company has been awarded funding along with Milton Keynes Mind to create a game to help people with depression.

Dr Haniff said: “By the company working alongside a leading mental health charity, MK Mind, expertise for the game has been gathered to provide useful content.

“The idea being that the game can teach people how to deal with triggers of depression in a fun and informal way. It is not intended to replace traditional methods such as counselling but can act as an added to help reinforce techniques that can be used when a person is presented with a potential situation that can lead to depression.”

Pervasive Technology Lab currently has a turnover of £10,000 but the potential is vast as the NHS itself points out that one in four people in the UK will suffer a mental health problem in their lives. Stress alone has been said to cost UK industry £5 billion pounds a year and mental health problems overall have a £33 billion annual price tag.

The worldwide computer games market is also valued at billions of pounds and Dr Haniff believes the potential is huge.

Dr Haniff said: “The use of games for serious purposes is on the increase with companies also developing games to teach business skills. The age of people playing games is also increasing with the average gamer being 35 years old and 40 per cent of all gamers are women. The potential in this area we believe is therefore huge.”

Dr Haniff, who says he tries to keep abreast of new developments to see how they can provide a needed service, hopes to develop more products to help other conditions such Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Pervasive Technology Lab was a finalist in the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards 2010.