The West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) has worked with Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust to create a new, innovative app, BESTIE (powered by Wupwoo). The interactive online platform works to revolutionise the way children, young people and parents access online mental health support and is perfect for encouraging people to talk about their emotional wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May).
The app was created by local young people, with the help of clinicians from the Trust, IT experts and members of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Dr Ben Rogers, Service Lead for Psychological Interventions at the Trust also helped steer the project, with the help of funding from the WMAHSN.
Research has shown that half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by the age of 24. BESTIE, an anonymous, safe platform combines digital media, instant messaging, built-in-games and supportive information to support young people with their mental health.
The name BESTIE was created by the Youth Board and stands for Balance, Energy, Support, Thrive, Interactive and Evolve, words they feel would resonate with young people.
CAMHS provides specialist mental health services to children, young people and families within Worcestershire and identified a demand for better digital tools and resources.
Neil Mortimer, head of digital health at WMAHSN, said: “As an academic health science network, we’re passionate advocates of co-design when it comes to technology. We’ve all seen examples of products that might be technically sophisticated, but don’t meet the needs or expectations of the intended user. With BESTIE, it was great to see young people in the driving seat of the design process. Working hand-in-hand with clinicians and system developers, their real experiences of mental health issues were at the heart of BESTIE. We’re using them as an example to others of how to be really inclusive when it comes to designing digital health solutions.”
The apps key benefits include helping to improve awareness and understanding of personal mental health needs. It also provides a platform to share recovery stories and improve self-reported self-esteem.
MidTECH Innovations supports the WMAHSN and its stakeholders by ensuring that digital tools and resources like BESTIE are accessible. Senior Innovation Manager James Turner, said: MidTECH was more than pleased to be able to contribute £10,000 towards the further development of the BESTIE app. We believe this genuinely innovative online system will greatly benefit the younger population, which is especially important at the moment. We look forward to working with the team moving forward in any way we can.”
The app is available for download on Apple and Android devices via the app stores. For further information on WMAHSN, visit: https://www.wmahsn.org/