Depression headset and app set to tackle UK’s ‘lockdown loneliness’

As England is once again in lockdown, new research shows the rate of ‘lockdown loneliness’ and its impact on mental health is as high as 27% in the UK. As the NHS strains to support an increase in mental health conditions, the Flow headset and therapy app treatment for depression, the first of its type to be medically approved in the UK and EU, aims to tackle ‘lockdown loneliness’ and mental health outcomes by providing immediate, at-home access to effective treatment.

Flow involves patients wearing a brain stimulation headset, while using a behavioural therapy app, which improves areas known to impact depression, including sleep and nutrition.

UK research findings

  • The prevalence of loneliness was 27%
  • 49% to 70% of respondents reported feeling isolated
  • People meeting clinical criteria for depression were almost twice as likely to be lonely
  • Worse quality sleep due to the pandemic increased the odds of being lonely

Depression and loneliness

The research identifies that people with depression were almost twice as likely to be lonely, and highlights the importance of effective targeted intervention to reduce the impact of lockdown loneliness.

In a recent user analysis, 81% of patients using the Flow headset and therapy app reported feeling better after three weeks, while 34% reported mood improvement and 32% reported anxiety reduction. The type of brain stimulation used in the Flow headset (tDCS) has been shown in clinical randomised controlled trials, including New England Journal of Medicine and the British Journal of Psychiatry, to have a similar impact to antidepressants, but with fewer and less-severe side effects.

Immediate access to treatment

The research shows that 49% to 70% of respondents reported feeling isolated, so immediate access to effective treatment could help the UK’s mental health services, which are straining to support the growing number of people with mental health conditions.

Flow improves access to mental health treatment as it can be delivered in 48 hours, allowing people to self-manage their depression at home. This is important as the research shows that in-person social contact has declined with fewer people going to their GP for help with their mental health during isolation.

Sleep and loneliness

The research shows that worse quality sleep due to the pandemic increased the odds of being lonely. The Flow therapy app program, which NHS trusts and healthcare professionals can now recommend, features an interactive chatbot therapist, a constant companion, which offers continuous personalised behavioural therapy in areas proven to reduce symptoms of depression, including sleep.

Daniel Mansson, Clinical Psychologist and Co-founder of Flow said: “As England is once again in lockdown, it’s important that people can get immediate access to effective therapy. Our clear treatment pathway empowers those most vulnerable to loneliness during these times to take control and self-manage their depression with a drug-free treatment from the comfort of their home.”

The research shows that with reduced in-person social contact and without intervention, prolonged loneliness may increase prevalence of mood disorders and exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions. It recommends that interventions addressing loneliness should focus on individuals who are socially isolated and prioritise those with mental health symptoms.

To normalise conversations around mental health and enhance feelings of solidarity during isolation, Flow is empowering its users to share their stories about how loneliness has impacted their mental health outcomes. Flow user, Mike Parsons has lived with depression for most of his life, and his story can be viewed here.

The Flow headset is available to buy here. The Flow app is free to download on AppStore and GooglePlay.

Startup Details

Startup Details


Flow Neuroscience

Flow Neuroscience a healthcare company develops depression treatment devices which combines an easy-to-use brain stimulation headset with a personalised mobile app to target both the physical and behavioral elements of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Flow Neuroscience's wearable stimulates a patient's left frontal lobe, the area of the brain that has often lowered activity in people suffering from depression.

Flow Neuroscience combines their wearable with a mobile app that nudges users to behaviours that will help lessen the effects of their depression, including exercise and regular sleeping patterns.

The company's hope is to make available for the public a treatment that's currently only used in clinics specialised in brain stimulation. It also wants to make the treatment affordable enough to seriously challenge a dominant pharmaceuticals industry.

  • Headquarters Regions
    Malmö, Skane Lan, Sweden
  • Founded Date
  • Founders
    Daniel Månsson, Erik Rehn
  • Operating Status
  • Number of Employees