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The Rise of Health Apps

My teenage niece rarely utters more than 2 words to adults nowadays. So you can imagine my utter shock when she casually declared that 'its kind of cool' that the service I work with has developed a mental health app. 

The app she was referring to is the 'My Journey' youth mental health app. I had to come clean and inform her that even though I led the project, the credit for developing the app belongs to the young people accessing the Early Intervention in Psychosis Service who have been key in progressing the project. My status of cool was therefore short lived but it opened up one of our longest discussions - on youth mental health and apps.

'My Journey' is one of several youth mental health health apps developed recently alongside a variety of other health apps. This months newsletter looks at 2 other youth health apps and possible implications for clinical systems:

  1. The Well Happy App was developed by Kat Cormack and the team at NHS London. It offers a handy guide to a range youth services in London as well as other features;
  2. Doc Ready aims to help young people prepare for appointments with doctors and other health professionals. The app has been developed by Innovation Labs;
  3. We also take a brief look at some of the possible implications of mobile health for clinicians and health IT systems.

Well Happy App

There are hundreds of services for young people in London. Finding your way around the different services can prove frustrating and add a barrier to accessing services.

Well Happy helps young people navigate their way around services by providing a guide to mental health, sexual health and drug & alcohol services with a brief explanation of what each service offers.

Doc Ready

Going to see a GP about our mental health can be daunting at any age let alone in adolescence and young adulthood. Recent research by Right Here highlights the challenges young people face in communicating mental health concerns to their GPs. 

Doc Ready is an intuitive tool aimed at easing some of this difficulty. It works by helping the young person pick issues that are concerning them and builds a checklist to take along to the appointment. You can hear Mark Brown (One in Four Magazine) explain more about the app by clicking here.

Ali & Sharon ('My Journey' Co-Developers) Speaking on Eagle Radio
My Journey 

The pattern of relapse in psychosis is as unique as the journey of recovery that each individual takes. 'My Journey' is a mental health app aimed at helping young people be able to take more control over their mental health and recovery. The app has been shortlisted for an NHS Challenge Prize and named as an E-Health Insider Finalist for 'Excellence in Mobile Health'.

Ali, a young person who co-developed the app, has recently been voted Eagle Radio's Volunteer of the Year. He recently gave a radio interview to outline his work in promoting youth mental health. You can listen to parts of his interview throughout this week on the radio station and read a review of the app here 

What about clinicians and practitioners?

The increasing use of mobile health technologies has not escaped people working in health and social care. A significant number of health workers now use Electronic Health Records (EHR) for record keeping and clinical decision making. The majority of EHRs are developed solely for desktop computers but this too is changing. Some clinicians, like medical student Roheet Kakaday, have gone as far as proposing designs for mobile EHR solutions.

However, as exciting as all these developments are, we are still faced with the challenge of connecting and integrating the information from the range of mobile health apps into EHRs - without comprimising on data security, clinical safety and quality. 

For more on health app connectivity, quality control and regulation, please click here.

The topic of mobile health is vast and rapidly changing. Our knowledge and skills will need to adapt as we see more and more digital health technologies emerge. This is one of the key drivers to improve the digital literacy of people working in health and social care as seen by the recent announcement of the Code4Health programme which aims to train 50,000 clinical staff.

I look forward to sharing more youth mental health developments with you in next month's edition.

Best Wishes,

Sarah Amani

Youth Mental Health Network Lead
South of England (East)
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