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SCP E127 Smart Strategies for Mental Health, with Katherine Flynn

This month is Self-Care September so we have a new theme all about health and wellbeing. I chose this theme because I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about how technology and Smart cities can affect our health, and what are the things we can do to use technology and the Smart Communities concept to improve our health and wellbeing.

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have a really interesting conversation with mental health disruptor and innovator, Katherine Flynn. Katherine tells us about her background in mental health and PR, and why she’s so passionate about Smart strategies for mental health. We talk about how learning about how data can be used in marketing is what sparked her interest in the ways we could be using data and technology to support people’s mental health. Katherine shares with us how she sees Australia embracing Smart concepts in this space currently, and two projects she’s working on – Listen In and Cre8 Dance – that use music and dance, combined with mindfulness practices and technology to support people’s mental health. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of technology such as Apps being used in mental health prevention as well as crisis support. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Katherine’s background in mental health and PR
  • Why Katherine is so passionate about Smart strategies for mental health
  • How learning about data in marketing sparked her interest in using tech to support mental health
  • What a Smart Community means to Katherine
  • Why we need to be assessing how our experiences online are impacting our mental wellbeing
  • Why Smart Communities are important and how we can use technology better to increase accessibility and engagement
  • How Australia is embracing Smart Community in the realm of mental health
  • Projects Katherine is currently working on that use music and dance, combined with mindfulness practices and technology to support mental health
  • Why ListenIn (which uses music) and why Cre8 Dance (which uses dance) are Smart strategies for mental health
  • Using digital strategies to promote integration across different disciplines, governments, academia, creatives, the community
  • Emerging trends in the mental health space including using apps to treat and prevent mental health problems, and the proactive versus reactive mental health response strategies


“Being involved with community development I got really frustrated with seeing the scale of [mental health crisis] and that unless we develop some Smart strategies, we’re actually only ever really going to get the tip of the iceberg with what we’re dealing with. We need to offer people a little bit more support based on the statistics we’re seeing.”

“It can be really difficult to confront some of this [mental health] stuff, we need to make it engaging and interesting and fun for people.”

“Coming from that mental health perspective, a Smart Community to me is one that is engaged around wellness, around feeling safe and supported from an emotional perspective. I think it’s also providing people with some of the tools that they need and making sure that they’re connected [to support] where relevant.”

“It’s about accessibility to a very big extent and I think even for people that are living in cities, often there is that complication around initial engagement with a [mental health service]. There are online chat messaging support strategies…but again I think we’re waiting til way downtown the track to engage people rather than supporting them and helping out when they’re initially going through those challenges, because you can to some extent have a prevention strategy around that.”

One area I’m particularly interested in working towards is to do with music, because people listen to music all the time, they’re always using it as a coping strategy. 80% of young people use it and say it’s their number one emotional coping strategy, so it’s something that people enjoy, it’s engagement, it’s a way of talking to potentially how they feel, and then how do we support them to navigate from there and giving them some tools to do that.

[Music is] a positive strategy and it’s a positive way of developing resilience and increasing to some extent your immunity to stress, because the reality is that if you’re listening to music in a mindful way, you’re engaging in a mindfulness practice and mindfulness practices are so amazingly therapeutic.

“Digital has a huge amount that it could contribute to making [the mental health engagement] space more and more equitable and fair and amazing”

“We haven’t really brought it all together in the sense of this is how we can make it the most meaningful, the most relevant, the most life saving and helpful strategy. To some extent it’s all happening but we just need it curated in a way that’s going to be meaningful and will actually result in good outcomes.”

“I believe that we can really harness [the senses] to give people the tools to stay strong and say well and it’s almost like going to the gym, not everyone’s a fan of it but it makes you stronger. That’s what mindful strategies can do.”


Australia’s National Suicide Prevention Advisor


Cre8 Dance

IAP2 The International Association of Public Participation

Calm App

Headspace App


Connect with Katherine via her websites katherineflynn.net and heartspaceinternational.com

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

Podcast Production by Perk Digital



  1. SCP E131 Where to next for Smart Cities and Communities? (Part 3) – The Smart Community Podcast - […] Katherine Flynn from Episode 127 […]
  2. SCP E131 Where to next for Smart Cities and Communities? (Part 3) – The Smart Community Podcast - […] SCP E127 Smart Strategies for Mental Health, with Katherine Flynn […]

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