Winner of AXA Health Tech & You 2019 –Mobility and Accessibility Challenge

1 July 2019

Nearly half of adults over 55 say they have experienced depression and around the same number have experienced anxiety, according to YouGov[1] – showing a unique mental health challenge in later life. As we age, feelings of loneliness and isolation can manifest and could lead to these feelings of depression and anxiety[2].

Technology has played an important role in fostering greater physical and social connectivity, helping many to stay in touch with their loved ones and explore the world around them, something that AXA Health Tech & You Mobility and Accessibility Challenge category winner Tomo recognised. Tomo is an app that uses a growing online community to help users to build habits that keep them healthy.

Inspired by personal experience

During a bout of depression in 2014, Fahad al Saud, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Tomo was first inspired to make a manual version of the app with family and friends via a WhatsApp group to help him get better - he would share photos of the healthy things he did each day and they would respond with emojis to encourage him.

The Tomo app allows users to work out what activities will lead them build a healthier life and helps to schedule them on a regular basis to turn them into habits. The goal of Tomo is to ultimately improve their mental and physical health.

Building healthy habits

Gus Booth-Clibborn, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, had experience of caring for somebody with depression when he heard Fahad’s story, sparking an idea to develop an app based on their experiences. The app was designed with Behavioural Activation therapy in mind, which is a talking therapy that can give you the motivation to make small, positive changes in your life[3].

Fahad said: “One of the challenging things about dealing with mental health is not just going through therapy, but exercising what you learn from it into your real life to stop you going back into that place.”

Users are encouraged to take photos on their smartphone of little things they do to improve their confidence, motivation and self-care – they then share the images of what they’re doing with other members of Tomo’s community. The Tomo community will give the user a virtual “pat on the back” by reacting to the post, and inspiring them to do the same.

Being an AXA Health Tech & You Awards winner

When asked how they felt to be the winner of the AXA Health Tech & You Mobility and Accessibility Challenge category, Gus said: “Winning this AXA award is an endorsement not only for Tomo, but for the importance of community and daily, healthy habits in enjoying sustained wellbeing.

“We hope to work in partnership with the insurance sector to bring our evidence-based product to their clients."

AXA Health Tech & You worked with Saga on the Mobility and Accessibility Challenge category, to look for exciting and innovative technologies helping people to keep active and pursue their passions, whatever their age.

Head judge Nick Reed, Senior Manager Strategy & Innovation at Saga, said: “I and the fellow judges of the Mobility and Accessibility Challenge felt that Tomo was outstanding in this category.

“Tomo breaks down barriers, and allows people to be more open about their mental health, letting them do this at their own pace and with total anonymity. We know this is a real issue for those over 50 and we felt this was a really compelling solution.”



[1] NHS. (2019). NHS England » Half of adults aged 55 and over have experienced common mental health problems, say Age UK. [online] England.nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2017/10/half-of-adults-aged-55-and-over-have-experienced-common-mental-health-problems-say-age-uk/ [Accessed 13 Jun. 2019].

[2] NHS. (2019). NHS England » Half of adults aged 55 and over have experienced common mental health problems, say Age UK. [online] England.nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2017/10/half-of-adults-aged-55-and-over-have-experienced-common-mental-health-problems-say-age-uk/ [Accessed 13 Jun. 2019].

[3] NHS (2019). Types of talking therapies. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/types-of-therapy/ [Accessed 13 Jun. 2019].