Themes and Topics

We invited work from a broad range of contexts in which digital technology could facilitate the development and learning of skills to support wellbeing, exemplified by three promising directions below. We especially welcomed submissions that considered how technology can ‘teach and disappear’, i.e., aim to scaffold users’ skills development, but can be removed once the learning is complete.

Social and Emotional Learning in Education
Educational Psychology has a long history of creating social and emotional skills learning (SEL) curricula as preventive programs for both general and at-risk student populations. These have been deployed to millions of pupils and the learning strategies inherent in these curricula help young learners develop skills such as self-awareness, emotional regulation, coping, or problem solving; all of which help facilitate growth and resilience. Indeed, an increasing body of evidence suggests that such skills can lower the chance of mental health problems at later age and increase mental wellbeing.

However, very little work in HCI has explored this area of research so far. This opens questions around the opportunities that are provided by technology to further augment the learning of students, and to enhance impact, scope and effectiveness of SEL curricula. How can technology effectively re-inforce the preventive effects of such programs? And finally, how can SEL curricula inform HCI research, such as guiding the incorporation of the successful SEL strategies into the design of technology systems in other settings?

Skills & Techniques in Socially Constructing Wellbeing
For a variety of health conditions such as chronic pain, Parkinson’s or Dementia, full recovery is unlikely. In such cases we require strategies for the promotion of mental health and wellbeing that are respectful of the ongoing and possibly degenerative nature of the difficulties, as well as the loss in physical or mental abilities that sufferers experience. For example, what opportunities are provided by technology to help people cope with, and accept their often challenging health condition and related transitions in their life? How can technology help individuals build on their remaining strengths and enable them to maintain a sense of continued growth and development, despite potential limitations in their abilities?

Moreover, and particularly in the case for People with Dementia (PwD), a condition that causes the erosion of personhood, the role of care-givers (family members, professionals) plays a fundamental role in socially co-constructing a person’s sense of self and contributing to their social and emotional wellbeing. Thus, how can technology sensitively assist, help initiate, and enrich social interactions that feel meaningful to for instance PwD, enable them to feel socially connected or experience calm? How can technology also help promote the wellbeing and improve resilience skills of the carers, who often experience social and emotional stress as part of their care provision?

Supporting Skills Learning in Therapeutic Approaches
In recent years the HCI community has become increasingly engaged with the challenge of designing technology to support mental health interventions. Key challenges in this research have included the need to improve access to professional support and also improve engagement with treatments. In the context of this workshop we are particularly interested in understanding how technology can change the dynamics of therapeutic interventions, support improved psycho-education and self efficacy—critical elements of many interventions—and also allow us to draw more effectively on informal caregivers. Looking beyond the Cognitive Behavioral approaches applied in many computer-supported interventions, we particularly aim to explore recent work drawing on positive psychology. How can we, for example, design social networking sites or other technologies that would help clients identify their strengths, sensitively facilitate social support from their informal caregivers or peers, provide opportunities for growth, or promote the development of a lasting, positive self-esteem?

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