A group of young people from Leeds have been working together to design an app to support mental health and now their ideas are set to become a reality after they pitched them to a Dragon’s Den-style panel of health experts, who all said: “We’re in!”
The 12 to 19 year-olds have been working over the last few months with digital experts from NHS-funded project mHealth Habitat, which develops websites and apps to improve experiences and outcomes for people accessing health and care services.
Earlier this week (Wednesday 12th August) the young people presented their ideas at a “Dragon’s Den” style event to a panel of health professionals, including NHS commissioners responsible for buying health services and NHS and practitioners involved in delivering mental health support to young people in Leeds.
The proposal which impressed the ‘Dragons’ the most and will now be developed into a prototype is an app that allows young people to “store up happiness for an emotional rainy day”, keeping a virtual scrapbook that makes them feel good such as photos, videos, music and messages in one place on their phone that they can access when they need a boost.
The ideas presented were based on the young people’s own experiences of accessing mental health services and support in Leeds, as well as months of testing to establish what works well in existing tools available and where there are gaps.
The work is among a raft of developments underway across the city, led by Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group on behalf of the three Leeds CCGs, and following a review of support services for children and young people’s mental and emotional health services.
The CCG and other organisations such as Leeds City Council, Leeds Community Healthcare Trust, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and local voluntary groups are working together to make sure support services are joined up, from schools to specialist providers; and to provide support as early as possible when young people experience problems.
Mark Brown from mHealth Habitat said: “Technology is all about solving problems and it has so much potential for supporting people with their mental health, whether that’s to boost our wellbeing in our everyday lives or in a more targeted way for those with a diagnosis or specific needs.
The young people we have been working with have been fantastic at exploring problems that people of their age actually have and we’ve been really impressed with the ideas they have come up with to solve them. We’re excited about the next phase of the project – developing their idea into a resource that will make a real difference.”
Dr Jane Mischenko, Lead Commissioner for Children and Maternity Services, Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have been very impressed by the ideas put forward today. We are committed to putting young people’s voices at the heart of our work to transform support for them around emotional wellbeing and mental health. This project is very much influenced by their experiences, knowledge and creativity.”