My depression made me want to use technology to help myself and others

John Harper

A guest contribution from John Harper, creator of @rizenow 

A year ago I decided I wanted to be part of working out how technology can help us and our mental health.

The year before, I was diagnosed with moderate depression. It had been going on for a long time and I had no idea what was happening. I had no voice to describe it. So I sat in a loop hole, popping in and out until it got worse. My sister encouraged me to visit my GP, who was  patient and empathetic and helped me work out what to do next.

I like to work on myself, in a little mental workshop where I  pick myself apart and evaluate my ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ . My GP advised I check out Moodgym- – a website which teaches you about depression/anxiety: symptoms, effects, self-help and what support is available.

The website itself was quite ‘clunky’ and full of text, which I found hard to deal with when I was depressed. Nonetheless I got through everything on the website, and at the end of it I actually felt… better. Not ‘cured’, but relieved that I knew more about what was going on inside myself.

I felt confident enough to see a counsellor, I made changes to my lifestyle and even felt good enough to start chasing my dreams instead of my own tail.

I realised how important moodgym had been in my steps towards recovery. Because of the type of person I am, it helped to have a tool to ‘work on myself’. It gave me space from other people’s evaluations of what I was doing, and empowered me to to believe that my illness was real and help was available.

I began opening up to people and in turn they told me their similar stories: the content was there but it was laborious to find and boring to engage with.

That’s when my lightbulb appeared. My dream has always been to take my own ideas and make them into a reality. With the help of moodgym, similar sites, and counselling I developed the confidence to try. I created the concept which is now the Rize app! – a gamified app that integrates therapeutic concepts into simple exercises to help users to track and improve their mental wellbeing.

Over the last year I have gained support from the Cambridge Accelerator Program, Mindtech, The London Institute of Psychiatry, Nottingham University, and a group of counsellors in Cambridgeshire.

My mission is to provide people like me with content that is accessible, engaging, and effective – to support their journey in tracking and improving their mental wellbeing. I don’t believe digital technology can, at least in my generation, act as a cure for anything like depression, but I strongly believe that it can be a powerful supplement to engaging, recovering, and developing resilience.

Rize is now available on all major iOS and Android devices, for a free seven day trial:

iPhone/iPad download –

Android/Tablet download –


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