I originally fell in love with SuperBetter when I watched a 2012 TED talk by the creator Dr. Jane McGonigal called, “The game that can give you 10 extra years of life.” Super Better is one of those so wonderfully simple yet unbelievably ingenious creations with an unequivocally genuine and loving dedication to the wellbeing of each individual.
I remember the moment I became a true believer in SuperBetter. I was working at a small, rural outpatient mental health clinic as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. At the time I was only months into my career, and need I say naive? I was seeing a young man with major depression for our first follow-up visit. He walked into my office that day appearing brighter, livelier, and more sociable. About a month earlier, I had written a prescription for Wellbutrin and casually recommended that he check out this interesting website, www.superbetter.com.
“Looks like that Wellbutrin is working.” I said.
Ok, ok, ok, Melissa. So what is SuperBetter?
I was stunned. I mean, obviously I thought SuperBetter was cool before, but actually seeing someone who was in so much pain find so much relief in something so simple (not to mention cost-effective and safe)... it was a poignant moment for me. I will never forget the smile in his eyes as he told me about his “epic wins” and “power ups.”
So, SuperBetter is an online and mobile application that allows users to achieve their health goals by building personal resilience through interactive gaming. Resilience makes you strong, motivated, and optimistic in the face of difficulties, and serves as a key component of Positive Health. SuperBetter uses health behavior change theory in combination with fun, interactive gaming concepts to help users achieve their health goals.
Right now, users can choose from a variety of challenges including: depression, anxiety, chronic pain, physical injury, sleeping better, lowering stress, losing weight, eating healthier, increasing energy, and working out .
Users make an account online and select their challenge. They are then presented with personalized activities to progressively build physical, mental, emotional, and social strengths. SuperBetter harnesses the power of games (that means points, achievements, quests, power-ups, and bad-guys) to help users help themselves.
SuperBetter allows users to identify their “bad-guys.” A person with depression, for example, might chose “self-mutilation” or “self-blamming.” This person then would earn achievements by going on quests that might include typing out their feelings, practicing deep breathing techniques, calling a loved one on the phone, Googling pictures of baby animals, or taking a walk. The platform also includes education material, ability to set reminders, and a way to recruit allies (friends and family) who will support the user through his or her recovery.
Some things I’d be interested in seeing SuperBetter do:
As I continued my clinical career, I never forgot about SuperBetter. When I worked in consultation-liaison psychiatry (psychiatric consults on inpatient medical floors), I would help patients download the app on their phone so that they had something empowering to do while stuck in a sometimes impersonal and demoralizing hospital environment.
I am curious. Anyone else use SuperBetter in their clinical practice? Any feedback from your patients? From a hospital administrative and nursing informatics standpoint, I see this as an excellent patient engagement method. What other uses do you all see for this platform? Email me or comment below with your thoughts.