On June 23, 2020, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health launched the Mobilizing and Empowering the Nation and Technology to Address Loneliness & social isolation (MENTAL) Health Innovation Challenge to combat the social isolation and loneliness that older adults, people with disabilities and veterans often experience. A total of $750,000 in prizes will be awarded for development of an easy-to-use online system that offers recommendations for programs, activities and resources that can help users connect to others and engage in the community, based on their individual needs, interests and abilities. The winning system will be announced and demonstrated in January 2021 at CES, an annual trade show produced by the Consumer Technology Association. It ultimately will become the centerpiece of a national public awareness campaign.
Supporting partners include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The MENTAL Health Innovation Challenge was coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“Staying connected to family, friends, and colleagues is important, especially during the pandemic,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “The FCC has a long history of helping ensure that those at risk for isolation, like older Americans and people with disabilities, can access the communications technologies that can keep them connected, healthy, and safe. We look forward to joining HHS and others in this important effort to enable technology to help vulnerable Americans.”
Press Release Link:
More information about the MENTAL Health Innovation Challenge, including deadlines and evaluation criteria, can be found at https://acl.gov/challenge and at https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/MENTAL-health-social-isolation-challenge.