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UK Schools to Test mHealth App for Mental Health Conversations

More than 250 teachers in the UK will soon have access to an mHealth app designed to help them have conversations with students who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- Hundreds of teachers in the UK will soon be testing an mHealth app designed to guide them in talking to students about mental health issues.

Developed by the University of London’s Royal Holloway branch, MindAid is billed as a mental health first aid training tool, giving teachers access to digital health resources that can help them talk to students and suggest further treatment.

“In today’s society, young people can feel under extreme pressure from so many factors including doing well at school, pressure from social peers and problems at home,” Dr. Hellen Pote, a member of Royal Holloway’s clinical psychology department and the app’s creator, said in a press release. “The app is designed to give teachers a tool to recognize those young people who need help and includes sign-posting information on how to direct students who may need a helping hand.”

“Early intervention and prevention of common mental health problems is the key to making sure young people are supported sooner rather than later, and many teachers have been extremely supportive of this app,” she added.

The app isn’t intended for use as a clinical diagnosis or risk assessment tool, but rather as connected health resource for teachers uncertain of how to approach students who me be experiencing a mental health crisis. It consists of four segments, titled Listen, Learn, Question and Refer, and is designed to guide the teacher through a conversation with a student.

More than 250 teachers across England will be testing the app in a trial scheduled to begin later this month.

The app is one of several mHealth and telehealth tools being introduced to schools this year in an effort to improve student access to behavioral and mental health resources.

Across the US, school districts and local health systems are partnering to develop telehealth platforms that bring mental health specialists into the school for triage and virtual consults. Some programs screen students for mental health issues and then develop treatment plans that may include in-person therapy or telehealth visits.

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