Digital Landscape

Thousands of digital tools can influence mental health and young people can access many of these tools. The market for mental health tools is growing. So are interest, acceptance and development by public services. Mental health is the fastest growing area of visits on the NHS Choices website. Please remember that Aye Mind does not offer direct support for mental health issues and is not continuously monitored for messages. If you need an ambulance, call 999. If you or someone around you is in distress or need immediate help, click here to find a list of services you can talk to.

In this section, you’ll find:

1. Universal and mental health tools

It’s useful to distinguish between:

  • Using existing digital tools for mental health purposes – e.g, blogging or having a closed Facebook group for support;
  • Using tools designed to support mental health – e.g using a mood tracker app like In Hand to self-manage or a web tool like DocReady to prepare for a doctor’s appointment.

ayemind_toolkit_tools

2. The Aye Mind database

AyeMind has a resource database of digital tools. These resources are for professionals, young people and their supporters.

Some of them aren’t accessible to young people in Scotland but can give service managers ideas of tools that other services have created. You can also suggest resources you have discovered and provide feedback about tools you use.

We encourage you to use your own judgement in recommending tools to young people. The next chapter includes a discussion on developing that judgement and building the confidence to evaluate digital tools.

3. Universal Tools: Guides

Young people use a range of digital tools in daily life.

Professionals and adult supporters need to understand how young people lead their lives online. They need to respect their space in what is often connected to mental health, i.e: friendships, sex, sexuality and identity. If we don’t appreciate this dimension, we miss an opportunity to provide constructive guidance.

For young people, experiencing distress or mental health problems, is key to understand their digital life. It may be critical to supporting their recovery.

Directories provide a first step ‘go-to’ guide for parents, workers and professionals. The NSPCC service NetAware provides a reliable, high validity guide to the social media tools which young people use. Better Internet for Kids, an EU initiative also provides a directory.

4. Your first steps on NetAware

NetAware site is a guide to the social networks young people use and can help parents and professionals stay up to date with digital.

Would you like to try it out? We can help out – just follow the steps on the image below and explore the website.

ayemind_toolkit_netaware

5. Universal Tools: Social media

Social media, or ‘social networking services’, is available through App and websites. It’s designed to make it easy for content to be created and shared, and to participate in social networking.

Facebook
is one of the largest social media services, with over 5 billion users. It allows users over the age of 13 to interact with ‘friends’ who also have accounts. Their privacy settings dictate who can see these updates: themselves, their friends or public. Some Apps also connect to Facebook and allow users to share information. Users can contact each other on Facebook Messenger.

Twitter
enables communication with others in short statements called ‘tweets’ that are <140 characters including spaces. Like this sentence.

Storify
brings together tweets about a topic or hashtag into a curated story. For example, read the Support Squared story.

Blog
is a type of website which allows individuals or organisations to publish content and engage with readers through comments. Blogs are often used as an online personal journal. There are a range of mental health blogs that are widely regarded. Every year, the Mind Media Awards recognises some of these blogs and resources. We encourage you to explore them.

Vlog
is a video blog. Instead of writing or publishing artwork, the author creates and shares videos.

YouTube
is popular with young people of all ages. It’s a source of entertainment, information and even education (like make-up tutorials). The range of subjects is diverse. Recommendations for other videos accompany each video, so it’s easy to stumble on triggering content amongst useful and supportive content.

Tumblr
is a social media site growing in popularity with young people. It allows users to curate an online space and use their account as a blog, vlog or a mixture of media. Users can share others’ posts and work together on content. Tumblr has a thriving community of mental health support. Unfortunately, it also has a range of content that can be triggering or less helpful. Tumblr established guidelines on mental health related postings in 2013. It was one of the first major social networks to do so.

Pinterest
is a graphic-based site. Users can curate content related to their interests and hobbies.

Instagram
is a mobile platform which allows users to take, edit and share photographs and videos. Users can comment on other users’ photos. Numerous organisations already use Instagram to reach out to young people and it’s worth following their progress: see Young Scot Instagram for example.

Some media formats
have developed to be shared through social media. For example, memes are images, videos or pieces of text, often with a funny message. Internet users share it, sometimes with slight variations. A GIF is a short animation made from a series of images. Young people in AyeMind used gifs in co-design workshops to communicate key messages. 

6. Your first steps on Twitter

Let’s tweet! Follow the steps on the image below and click on these accounts to follow and find out about mental health in 140 characters.

ayemind_toolkit_twitter

7. Universal Tools: Gaming

Gaming has been part of youth culture for well over twenty years. Faster Internet, connected consoles, handheld devices and mobile phone games have changed gaming. Participation in gaming has increased in complexity and breadth.

Gaming is often portrayed as negative and dangerous. The association with violence, sexism and addiction has become part of the conventional narrative. Actually, the evidence is not as clear cut. There is good evidence that even playing violent games in teams can have benefits. Project 99 found that young people found gaming important in their social life in particular, though not only, for young men.

Professionals need to understand the role of gaming in young people’s lives. It enables them to help young people navigate these experiences.

Gamification can be a way to create mental health tools that are like games. Game contexts are a good way to explore feelings and mental health. Think of the way as you may use other interests like sport to start conversations.

Key areas of gaming include:

  • PC/Consoles
  • Internet Games and Role Play
  • Mobile Gaming

8. Universal Tools: Wearables

As the internet hand digital technology has developed, we have seen an increase in the availability of technology which can be used to gather and utilise information about ourselves. This may be in clinical settings via ehealth or telehealth tools that, for example, monitor blood sugar or heart rate. It may be in terms of leisure tools such as fitness trackers, wearables or sensor based technology to control our houses or devices in our absence.

Sensors and computers that gather data without input and connect to the internet make up the so called ‘internet of things’. The phenomenon of gathering and using personal metrics or information is known as ‘quantified self’.

Quantified self-activities are very useful in mental health improvement and in self-management, but can also be a source of concern in some circumstances.

Personal fitness trackers like Jawbone Up or Fitbit, or app based exercise and diet trackers like RunKeeper, Strava or My Fitness pal can help track activity, sleep, and diet, all things that can contribute to and encourage mental health improvement, especially in terms of self-management strategies. Initiatives such as Project Ginsberg seek to connect those insights with mood tracking, and clinical tools like True Colours enable clinical tracking of mood and other data.

Anecdotal suggestions are that this technology could be misused by people with eating disorders, or may create concerns for those prone to obsessive thinking. Equally, sensor technology is viewed with some suspicion by some people who experience paranoia or psychosis, particularly when propositions are made to replace face to face monitoring of wellbeing or care with remote sensors.

It is likely that the internet of things and sensor based technology will grow in the coming years, with general and mental health specific applications. Therefore, we recommend being open to discussion about the use of monitoring tools and software as part of digital history taking, and potential treatment options.

9. Mental Health Tools

Digital tools for mental health are a major growth area across the world.

Globally, there is a proliferation of websites, apps, forums, blogs, vlogs and other digital tools devoted to mental health. Navigating these is a challenge both for end users and professionals. It’s becoming more well recognised that digital tools have the ability both to reach and engage unmet needs and facilitate earlier intervention.

To do this, we need to understand the types of tools available, how these fit into people’s lives, and importantly in clinical practice, how we assess the risk/benefit of using digital tools. At a minimum, we need to understand where digital fits in the mental health of those we support or work with. We need to be able to:

  • ask questions,
  • understand contexts,
  • and make useful suggestions when asked by young people who expect adult supporters to understand their lives.

For parents, teachers and youth workers, it’s key to have the skills to:

  • have the conversations,
  • a place to find out more,
  • and a set of trusted tools in your back pocket to be able to suggest.

For professionals, digital history taking and context is key. Being able to then use that to formulate ways to manage challenges and exploit assets is central to a personalised, outcomes focused approach to support.

In the preliminary work for Aye Mind, we built a map of tools that mapped tools by their function, summarised below.

We have presented a case study for each of these areas to allow you to examine one tool and ask: how you might use it, and also, in some cases, what concerns you might have?

ayemind_toolkit_examples

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