A new start-up is joining the IT4Anxiety project: Meet Mind-Mapper !

Mind-Mapper is a start-up based in Northern Ireland developing a new technology destined to address several in situ problems faced by psycho-therapists.  Indeed, the idea behind Mind-Mapper is based on three observations.

Firstly, it’s very difficult for therapists to evaluate the progress of their patients. Therapists evaluate their clients by using a scaling method of 1-10, however this can be very subjective as one persons 4 could be another persons 6 depending on their interpretation of their current circumstances and emotions being experienced. Therefore, it is very difficult to have neutral, objective data to attest if the therapy is effective and which kind of therapy is working for each patient. 

Secondly, therapists face real barriers to access data about brain activity in therapies. If you are not working in a research centre or willing to pay a huge amount of money, you’ll miss out on the already-not-so-dense scientific data available. 

Thirdly, mental health is the number one cause of disability in Northern Ireland, yet access to care in that sector is a problem. Sometimes considered as a non-tangible science, mental health care is very poorly covered by health insurance.

To address these problems, Tara Nicholas and Naomi du Bois, the founders, are working on developing the Mind-Mapper solution. In order to observe brain activity, a device with sensors is needed. Therefore, Mind-Mapper is developing a two-part solution: a software and a headset. 

The software will be unique and designed by Mind-Mapper itself. It will be compatible with Mind-Mapper’s headset, however, the founders are looking forward to making their software accessible for all headsets. Indeed, they are deeply motivated by the will to ensure affordability and ease of use for the wide range of end users who will benefit from the data the headset produces.

In that regard, the founders aspire to build a headset with a limited number of sensors needed to monitor the connections between the brain networks and emotions. With this goal of affordability, Mind-Mapper plans to offer its headset on lease or sale, to adapt to all budgets. 

“It is a non-invasive headset to use during therapy sessions. Therefore, the therapist can track progress overtime. It would be game changing for therapists to access such data as they would have objective evidence to validate the effectiveness of their therapy” explains Tara. “To keep it short, it’s like a Fitbit but for mental health to allow the therapist and their clients to monitor the changes in their brain activity as they progress through therapy giving visibility to a currently invisible illness” adds Naomi. 

The founders hope that “Mind-Mapper will provide evidence-based therapy, allowing the therapy to be reimbursable or a part of medical or social care”. They are both convinced: “it’s possible to do but it will take time”. 

Moreover, Mind-Mapper is born out of the joining forces of its founders.


Tara Nicholas is a therapist. She had an idea and the field experience. It’s indeed in her therapist practice that she witnessed she had access to a pool of patients yet had no tangible data about their progress. She wanted to fix this problem, hence the idea of Mind-Mapper. Also, she notes that “there is a fascination around how the brain works, yet therapists aren’t able to use the data. It’s only accessible to researchers and at high costs. Yet, there is an actual need for practitioners to access reliable, non-biased, data. Therapists have no way of showing or proving their therapy is working with scientific data. Well, with Mind-Mapper, that will change.” Actually, thanks to her background in business and finance, she used to work as “the person behind the start-ups”, helping them to grow. She sure caught the bug for entrepreneurship then.

Naomi du Bois had the complementary expertise and aptitudes. She also has a background in psychology. She is now a Research Associate at Ulster University, working in Neuroimaging Data Analysis on numerous projects. She has experience with neurofeedback from affordable neurotechnology. Her knowledge and access to information is a real asset to the duo dynamic. Naomi and Tara eventually met at a networking program. And that’s how it started.  

Noami heard of IT4Anxiety from her colleagues, as Ulster University is a partner of the project. It’s on their advice that Naomi and Tara applied to join the consortium. By taking part in IT4Anxiety, they looked forward to getting access to a broad European network, clinical trials, ethics support and help on the registration of their devices. “We didn’t realise at the time all the implications and resources of the project. It went really beyond what we expected” precises Naomi. 

 The two founders have a lot of ambition. Indeed, when asked about how they see the future of the start-up, the founders were not short on ideas and plans. Firstly, they are looking forward to witnessing the impact of their technology. Indeed, with the collected and shared data, they are confident that more research in the field of mental health will be conducted. Then, they hope that Mind-Mapper will export its skills and expertise worldwide, before looking into tackling other mental health issues. “Being able to develop the software for use across multiple mental health disorder types would be the cherry on the top of the cake”. 

Also, they "would love to have a mental health hub which would host the headquarters of Mind-Mapper, and also would be a place to exchange data and debate around the field innovations, as well as being a place of therapy practice, resources and leading research on various topics, including how to adapt the therapies.”  

“All that is left to say is stay tuned to Mind-Mapper’s next steps. It seems to be the beginning of a great adventure, within and outside IT4Anxiety”. 

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