November 6, 2018 Innovation Chapel

When your innovation asset is an Octogenarian

We often talk of technology solutions delivering the scale and ease of adoption to all our problems in the world. It’s nice then to find a solution outside of the obvious in the abundant wisdom and experience of global grandmas who are helping alleviate real pain and suffering.

This was brought home to me recently when my awesome sister-in-law used grandmas as a potential global platform to tackle mental illness at a UN conference.

She cites the friendship bench project in Zimbabwe which is now being adopted around the world. In Zimbabwe 1 in 4 of the population is suffering from anxiety or depression. But there are only 12 trained psychiatrists in a population of 14 million.

The friendship bench project has used these psychiatrists to train 400 community grandmothers in problem solving therapy who in turn start important conversations everyday on these benches around the country.

Reducing symptoms by 85% in those suffering from suicidal and depressive ideations the friendship bench is a community first program that allows for easy but important interactions for those who have nowhere to turn.

It’s another reminder of how the real problem, in this case accessibility to everyday help, can be solved by looking at all the assets at your disposal not just the high profile technology ones that all too often attract our attention. Big data analysis will undoubtedly reference mobile access and search query volumes for depression around the world. But I’m pretty sure no one is pulling data on grandmas and ageing populations as possible scale platforms. Maybe we should think about assets in a more interesting, more human way.

Sister-in-law credit:

Photo credit:

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