Creating a healthy diet of content consumption
The majority of content platforms today have built-in underlying recommendation engines. These engines track the genres, qualities, categories, and other key attributes of shows chosen by a uniquely identified viewer linked to the account. This enables them to capture a massive amount of data about viewer preferences, stickiness, and repeat-viewing tendencies. The engines then leverage this rich data to build accurate user personas and drive content optimization and curation to deliver a hyper-personalized experience and maximize the commercial appeal of content.
What if this existing infrastructure were to take on the additional objective of identifying viewer behavior that could point to potential mental health issues and trigger a positive intervention? This could involve media platforms picking moments in content that could touch viewers in a positive way and address clinical issues, or even content and social media platforms collaborating to combine first-party and third-party data to create richer personas that encompass mental health attributes.
Because physical health is better understood than mental health, let's bring in an analogy from the world of food and nutrition to illustrate this point. If we were to label gritty, realistic, graphic, or potentially triggering social and relationship issues as carbohydrates (satisfying and essential but in moderation), inspirational or informational content as healthy protein, and user-generated social media content as junk food, recommendation engines could play a role in ensuring users consume a balanced content diet that promotes wellbeing and happiness.
Of course, this is easier said than done because such attempts will directly conflict with the prevailing algorithms designed to maximize engagement. On the other hand, privacy concerns will require the careful handling of sensitive, individually identifiable data.
However, if there is a level playing field with checks and balances in place, a wellness-focused content strategy may gain greater acceptance. It would require users and platforms to share information identified as psychological attributes relevant to mental health. Likewise, the implementation would have to become consistent across platforms.