Can young people use the internet, social media and mobile technologies to improve their mental health and wellbeing?

Aye Mind has worked in collaboration with young people and workers to bring together a suite of positive digital resources and methods, for widespread use.

Improving the mental health and well-being of children and young people is a key priority both internationally and locally.  As part of a wider strategic approach to the promotion of child and youth mental health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and local partners are exploring the potential of digital technologies. Most importantly, the experiences and ideas of young people are at the heart of this work.

We are drawing on emerging evidence from around the world that digital communication tools and resources have great promise in the mental health sphere. This also features in the new Scottish Mental Health Strategy, which stresses the intention to use new technologies in the improvement of mental health nationwide.

Our exploration is considering both the many positive applications of digital technology but also considering the potential for negative impact, such as access to damaging material or adoption of negative behaviours (such as online bullying and obsessive use).

In 2013 and 2014, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde collaborated with local young people aged between 15 and 21 and a wide range of partners to explore how they used the internet in relation to mental health – with the programme being named “Project 99”. The synthesised output is presented in a section of the Aye Mind site.

This first phase of “Project 99” provided an excellent basis for learning and discussion with local stakeholders – with young people sharing their insights, experiences and digital design ideas directly with service deliverers and policy makers.

During late 2014 the “Project 99” partnership got confirmation of a grant award from the European Union’s CHEST fund, which supports innovative approaches to using digital platforms for social good. Backed by local resources too, this phase of work has progressed to completion during 2015 and 2016, producing a suite of digital resources aimed at boosting young people’s mental health. We have also created resources for youth-related workers and agencies (such as a digital toolkit).  As with the first phase, young people have been active participants in this work, using ‘coproduction’ approaches – see here for examples.

The project has been rebranded as “Aye Mind” and has developed a platform for encouraging positive approaches to youth wellbeing – with material for both young people and those who work with them. The content of the site is intended to be shared and used widely, across Europe and beyond.  To this end, we are adopting the principles of Creative Commons to the site content, with an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License applied.

Partners working closely with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on “Aye Mind” developments

Mental Health Foundation is a leading UK mental health charity, connecting policy, practice and research agendas to support change and campaign for better mental health for everybody.

Snook have developed a range of creative tools and methods which help people reflect on and articulate their service experiences, uncover insights into barriers to – and opportunities for – service improvement, and re-imagine new design solutions for improved service experience.

Young Scot is the national youth information and citizenship charity for Scotland, specialising in youth engagement. They provide young people with a mixture of information, ideas and opportunities to help them become confident, informed, active citizens.

Wide range of local health, social care and education sector partners – the project has the active input of a wide range of local partners from both statutory and voluntary sectors, brought together via a group known as the Digital Wellbeing Collaborative.  This group has ensured that there is a close connection with the wide range of youth engagement and mental health developments underway.

More on the co-design approaches>>