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Adolescents accept digital mental health support in schools: A co-design and feasibility study of a school-based app for UK adolescents

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Siobhan Hugh-Jones, Kirsty Pert, Sarah Kendal, Simon Eltringham, Chris Skelton, Nahel Yaziji, Robert West

Original languageEnglish
Article number200241
JournalMental Health and Prevention
PublishedSep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The project was funded by the Medical Research Council (UK) as part of their Public Health Intervention Development scheme, and the authors thank them for their support. The funders had no role in study design or conduct of the study or in manuscript preparation. Publisher Copyright: © 2022

King's Authors


Schools in the UK are required to provide frontline mental health promotion and prevention to adolescents, but with few resources. School-hosted mHealth is one option which could meet needs. This study co-designed and feasibility tested a self-help, school hosted, digital intervention for adolescents showing early symptoms of deteriorating mental health. Via extensive co-design, we produced a youth-targeted web-app (MindMate2) and a low-intensity parent component (Partner2U). Feasibility was tested in four UK high schools with n = 31 young people (15-17y). We specified rules for progression to an effectiveness trial, tested candidate primary outcome measures and conducted an exploratory cost-effectiveness analysis. Co-design produced MindMate2U to be a six-week, self-help, smartphone-delivered program targeting risk and protective factors for adolescent mental health. Young people's MindMate2U account was set up by school after which they progressed independently through six topics of their choosing. User ratings (n = 19) and post- intervention interviews (n = 6) showed resource acceptability. We met our recruitment, retention and pre-post measure completion targets and identified the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire as the most sensitive outcome measure. This study established the feasibility of a co-designed, mental health app as a low-burden, school-hosted resource for symptomatic young people and opens up new possibilities for the integration of mHealth in schools. Support via schools to parents of symptomatic young people may need to be universal rather than targeted. Following some refinements of MindMate2U, a phase 2 randomised controlled trial is warranted to test its effectiveness.

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