My JournE: Smartphone-based routine mental health monitoring in schools

MyJournE smartphone app screenshots

To mark Children's Mental Health Week (7-13 February 2022), we are highlighting some of the services available and research that has been conducted into young people's mental health with the support of our funding, and in partnership with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

Around one in seven young people in the UK present with a diagnosable mental disorder; the majority are untreated, often resulting in poorer mental/physical health, and social/economic outcomes in adulthood. Early identification and treatment are therefore vital.

Smartphone based monitoring could improve research and interventions

Schools are a crucial environment for preventing mental ill-health but rely on unsatisfactory local evidence for identifying vulnerable youth, detecting early-stage illness, and deciding where to direct new treatments. To date, schools have used expensive, burdensome, and methodologically limited survey methods, leading to sporadic assessments which limit informed decision making. 

Smartphones are nearly ubiquitous for secondary school aged children and could be used as data collection tools for accurate, low-cost, localised needs assessment and in real-time. Creating and implementing a standardised, well-governed approach for using smartphone-based approaches would ensure greater consistency between school, healthcare, and research outcome measures, facilitate mental health promotion/prevention programmes, provide up-to-date signposting information to access support, and facilitate recruitment into mental health research.

MyJournE app links school data with mood monitoring

Supported by NIHR Maudsley BRC researchers developed the MyJournE app; a novel e-platform and governance model, co-designed with young people from London-based colleges. The app links school enrolment data (e.g., socio-demographic, absence, attainment) with a smartphone-based survey and moment-by-moment mood monitoring.

The app provides value for the school by combining student- and parent-reported information to provide group-level reports on their student populations’ wellbeing and mental health needs. Linked enrolment data enable representativeness. These reports can then used in consultation with local providers, to help schools understand the targeting, timing, and subsequent impact of their mental health interventions.

To provide value for students and their parents, the app signposts to local and national support services and resources, but also gives older students the ability to track fluctuations in their mood and record positive and negative experiences. The app creates feedback graphs which help the student reflect with a trusted adult on how or why their mood changes, as recommended by users of mood-monitoring apps.

MyJournE has been piloted in local schools and we will expand and test it with 30+ further primary/secondary schools over the next five years and adapt it to include assessments of risk factors to identify which children may benefit from preventive interventions.

Watch a video introduction to MyJournE: 


Tags: Clinical and population informatics - Digital Therapies -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 11 Feb 2022, 09:17 AM

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