Young people and medical experts in Birmingham have created mobile apps which they claim could be a key tool in helping people with mental health problems.
The launch of the app in the city this week also highlighted how working with patients could lead to better results – and highlighted the city’s burgeoning medical science sector.
According to the World Health Organisation, around three quarters of mental disorders begin before 18 and more than half of all adults with problems were diagnosed in childhood – yet less than half were treated appropriately at the time.
Tools that enable prevention and early intervention are therefore crucial on the road to recovery, especially for illnesses such as psychosis.
The new apps, co-designed by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and young people with mental illness, show how mobile software can be a vital tool in the treatment of psychosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and emotional resilience.
Professor Max Birchwood, professor of youth mental health at the University of Warwick, said: “Half of most young people up to the age of 25 will experience some form of mental health issue. Getting help quickly and appropriately is crucial.
“We need to use youth-appropriate channels to give young people access to help, advice and interventions during a critical period when mental health problems develop.”
Among the new apps is Silver Linings, a ‘gamified’ piece of software that encourages young people to self-manage psychosis and engage with their treatment to increase the chances of recovery.
This app, alongside the Focus ADHD and Building Resilience apps, have been created by BSMHFT, web development firm Appadoodle, and young people themselves.
Dr Erin Turner, the BSMHFT consultant psychiatrist who led the team, said: “Silver Linings is about engaging young people using a medium they are familiar with, helping them in their recovery by better understanding psychosis,” said.
“From a patient perspective the app will help them to understand and manage their illness, and empower them on their road to recovery.
“From a clinical perspective, it helps us know patients are involved in managing their own recovery, and can give us longitudinal information that helps us to tailor our treatment plans.”
Tech company Appadoodle has crafted the software for Android mobile devices and it will be available from Google Play.
Jamie Prangnell, managing director, said: “ The app acts as a positive reinforcement and support for clinical treatment.
“By using game-style features such as badges and rewards, people can see how they achieve goals on their journey towards recovery.”