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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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First ever phone apps for young people with mental health conditions

Published: 30/10/2014


Pioneering phone apps designed to help young people understand, monitor and manage their mental health are being developed in Birmingham.
 
The work is the result of a partnership between clinicians at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and lecturers at Bournville College. Young people with experience of mental health conditions who participate in the Trust’s Youthspace Youth Board have also been involved in the development of the apps. This is the latest example of how the Trust involves its service users in informing its services.

Tablet
The apps are designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices and will assist with the following:
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD
  • Warning signs of early psychosis
  • Managing the reoccurrence of poor mental health

The ADHD app will be ready for live testing by December and is designed to benefit teenagers and young people up to the age of 25-years-old.
 
BSMHFT has 500 patients with ADHD who will be taught how to use the free apps by their clinical team. Users will be able to track monthly their medication intake and chart their mood, sleep and eating patterns. An alert system and award type gaming mechanism reminds the individual to complete the information daily. The app flags an alert when negative behavioural patterns develop and automatically directs the user to helpful Internet resources and numbers where help can be found.
 
By April next year the ‘early intervention’ app, aimed at spotting early signs of psychosis for teenagers and individuals up to 35-year-olds will be live. Also the ‘resilience’ app for patients aged between 10 and 25 will be launched. This app will focus on how to stay well after having experienced poor mental health, supporting emotional resilience.
 
Project organiser, Clinical Services Manager Tim Newbold said:
 
“The apps are aimed at helping our service users remember or articulate how they have felt recently when they come to clinic. Often they say they are OK and we are faced with a situation where their carer or parent disagrees. The app will act as a tool to refer back over a period of time to have an accurate representation of how they actually felt.”
 
The project has been financed by the BSMHFT’s research and innovation fund and the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and is a collaborative project between the Trust and Bournville College.
 
Alistair Baker, Bournville College’s Business Development Sponsorship Manager, said: “The vision for the apps is to have the nearest we can to a mini- clinician in the patient’s pocket. Some patients often see their doctor once every few months and the apps will mean that there is support there for them in the meantime.
 
“The apps also help to build a picture of life between appointments and they can generate 30-day graphs to show trends and areas to address."

Bournville College’s Project Lead Jamie Prangnell, added: "Earlier this year the Government said it wanted the NHS to embrace mobile technology and consider how it could be used to complement existing healthcare services.  These projects not only take this initiative forward, but they are already starting to provide some innovative and pioneering examples of how healthcare mobile apps can enhance the clinician and patient relationship."