Hedera Hashgraph, the Dallas-based distributed ledger platform, has announced a new, unlikely partnership with the Chopra Foundation to fight rising suicide rates and support mental health awareness.
Together with the Foundation, which says it is dedicated to supporting mind-body integrative health and well-being, Hedera will develop a freely accessible online platform for the Never Alone Initiative. The platform will host a verified set of resources for a global community in order to deliver secure access to science-backed research, work from mental health and wellness experts, and pragmatic tools for everyday use.
It’s an opportunity to use tech for good, while at the same time taking on the mental health crisis that continues to rise in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Indeed we are seeing a second, mental health pandemic with rising stress and suicide rates,” Poonacha Machaiah, CEO of The Chopra Foundation, said in a statement. “The community will be both global and local, offering a way for those in diverse countries and cultures to contribute vital resources on a trusted platform to support those suffering.”
Though Deepak Chopra, the founder and chairman of The Chopra Foundation, is better known for practices such as a 21-day meditation with Oprah Winfrey, he told Forbes he has been looking at “blockchain” for a while.
Chopra’s goal is to use the technology to take on mental and emotional wellness and suicide prevention. He says he knew a platform with traceability, collaboration, and proof-of-work was necessary—and as a “big student of emergence,” he saw distributed systems as enabling “grassroots systems for mental health and more.”
According to Chopra, the partnership with Hedera allows him and the foundation to fulfill a longtime vision.
It has been he and his team at the Foundation’s goal to have a trusted network that offers a “digital fingerprint to democratize access to mental and emotional health resources.” He called Hedera’s platform very robust and secure.
“With suicide rates and mental health issues rising rapidly, particularly amidst the global pandemic, people need access to authentic and trustworthy information,” he said in a statement. “We knew that Hedera Hashgraph’s distributed ledger technology offered the opportunity.”
Distributed ledger technology takes on mental health
Hedera Hashgraph is not exactly blockchain; it’s its own distributed ledger technology that Co-founders Mance Harmon and Leemon Baird say could revolutionize smart contracts, cryptocurrency, file storage, and even help protect social media user’s privacy. The alternative distributed ledger launched in August 2017 with the aim to correct a lot of the problems that have plagued better-known blockchain platforms.
Last September, Hedera opened its main network to the public, which gave anyone the ability to create accounts or build decentralized applications (dapps) on its network.
The company touts its platform as providing faster transactions and greater capacity to scale, making it better for enterprise and commerce. Hundreds of developers already were building on Hedera’s network in the closed beta. But at the time of launch, the main network Open Access beta had 26 dapps and solutions running live.
The Chopra Foundation’s Never Alone Initiative will be developed on the Hedera network.
It will involve building a global content platform based on the Hedera Consensus Service in collaboration with CG CreativeStudios, which will be responsible for brand and UX design.
The platform—available to all across the world—will allow anyone from medical professionals to meditation experts to upload content into a service registry. It’s logged on the Hedera Consensus Service and given a digital fingerprint, which essentially provides a guarantee of where its content resides, making it “completely tamperproof.”
Users can then log into the platform and view the trustworthy content with the assurance that it hasn’t been altered or falsified.
It’s one of the main elements that drew Chopra in: “We quickly found that only Hedera Hashgraph’s Consensus Service offered the ability to guarantee the authenticity of content through a verifiable, timestamped log of events,” he said. Equally as important for Chopra though, per Forbes, is Hedera’s distributed governance.
In February 2019, the company launched the Hedera Governing Council to govern changes to its software and provide stability and guaranteed continued decentralization.
The founding members of the council were Deutsche Telekom, DLA Piper, Magazine Luiza, Nomura Holdings, Inc., and Swisscom Blockchain AG, with Hedera later adding tech giants like IBM, Tata Communications, and Google.
The “stewards of the platform” all have equal say when it comes to updating Hedera’s platform codebase or setting policies. By having a governance model, Hedera said users are protected, the integrity of the codebase is guaranteed, and the source code is open for review.
Inside the Never Alone Initiative
According to the Foundation, the goal of Never Alone is to “address the roots of human stress and suffering, advance innovation based on scientific research, and democratize access to wellness resources and everyday tools for those in need.” It’s totally funded by donations, with each one verified and traceable via smart contracts on the Hedera Network.
This gives transparency and trust to donors in the same way users know the content they’re consuming is authentic.
“The Hedera Consensus Service has wide-ranging capabilities in the field of content authentication,” Harmon, who is also the CEO of Hedera, said in a statement. “The combination of high throughput and low cost uniquely enables the creation of a verifiable, timestamped log of events, showing every step and activity in the life of a piece of content, from creation to when it reaches the end-user.”
Development on the Hedera network will involve creating a digital token—the Never Alone token—to act as an incentive for content creators and healthcare workers to participate.
There’s also plans to add a real-time resource finder that would give users the ability to connect with volunteers, counselors, mental health experts, organizations, and hospitals in their area.
“We are proud that this technology will be leveraged to provided trusted, expert resources to those most in need, amongst rising suicide rates in the U.S. and internationally,” Harmon said. “Working with the Chopra Foundation on the Never Alone initiative gives us the perfect chance to put this rising technology at the forefront of solving pressing societal and health issues.”
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