Tackling Mental Health Issues In Kids One App At A Time

Tackling Mental Health Issues In Kids One App At A Time

Mental health issues in children and young adults currently cost our government $98.3 million each year, and whilst these issues are brought on by many factors, research conducted by Zuni and the Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) identified that the stigma related to help seeking can prevent young people from identifying issues they are experiencing.

Isha A Karnik
Posted by Isha A Karnik

These issues can grow into bigger and more difficult issues to resolve, leading to mental health concerns and diminished wellbeing, and increasing the burden on existing mental health systems.

In order to develop an understanding of how we can work with young people to develop help-seek and goal achieving behaviours, Zuni and the Young and Well CRC have developed Goalzie – part research project, part campaign, part youth collaboration project –Goalzie is a mobile game application, aiming to help young people to learn valuable behaviours to carry through to adulthood.

The app encourages young people to model help seeking behaviour, by encouraging them to interact with their peers – challenging friends, being challenged and setting fun consequences for unachieved goals— challenges range from physical, such as a dance workout; self regulation such as going two days without Facebook; through to being creative and making a Vine video; and being healthier by giving up chocolate for a week. Consequences include washing the family car, making One Direction your Facebook cover photo, and handing in homework two days early.

The app was created by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (Young and Well CRC) and the University of South Australia in conjunction with Western Sydney University, Zuni and the Queensland University of Technology. The creative strategy, ideation and development was created in conjunction with Digital Arts Network and the media planning and buying executed through Sydney based Mindbox. It is the fourth and last in a series of campaigns from the Safe and Well Online project, the project has aimed to encourage young people to value their own online safety and wellbeing, and to educate the community on the use of digital technology to maintain wellbeing.

Youth participation is an important part of the Young and Well CRC, and the app was developed through a series of co-creation workshops with young people, involving researchers, digital strategists and creatives. It was used for a limited access research trial where user behaviour was closely tracked and linked to survey data and interviews, prior to being launched as a campaign activity across the boarder internet.

Valentina Borbone, client relationship director at Zuni, said: “The app relies on natural social media behaviour, utilising a Facebook Connect function to make challenging friends as easy as possible. The anonymous data from the app will help us understand what co-variants, specific to the campaign, influence or indicate an individual’s propensity toward help seeking. Working closely with our research partners, we are developing an understanding of what types of activities can foster positive help seeking behaviours. This type of data can inform youth-related mental health services and help them develop better online tools and services that drive improved mental health outcomes.”

Zuni are the digital strategy partner of the five year long Safe and Well Online research stream the Young and Well CRC, and Goalzie builds on the success of Something Haunting You?, encouraging young men to seek help for everyday stressors; Appreciate A Mate, a social-based app promoting positivity online; and Keep it Tame, promoting respect online. The five-year project provides insight into how young people perceive key issues related to their safety and wellbeing, how they interact with digital campaigns and how effective they are in influencing or changing attitudes and behaviour.

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