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Digital solutions to support young people’s mental health

Create Open Health bootcamp

On 26 and 27 April people from all walks of life and professions gathered at an intensive two-day bootcamp to work on new digital and technology-based solutions to support positive mental health and build resilience in young people.

The bootcamp was part of the Create Open Health initiative, which we launched earlier this year alongside Creative England and The Wellcome Trust. We called for talented people with remarkable ideas that could positively impact and empower young people, their communities, parents and caregivers.

Since its launch in March, the initiative received nearly 200 applications, of which 12 were selected for the bootcamp sessions. The ideas and solutions discussed and developed during the bootcamp were as varied as they were creative. They included everything from mood trackers and virtual reality safe spaces, to horse-whispering concepts and digital tools that allow young people to access recovery tasks between therapy sessions.

All the ideas leverage digital or technology solutions to have a positive impact on mental health. From improving experience of mental health care and facilitating treatment, to educating and empowering young people and the communities around them, the ideas ultimately aim to have a significant impact on the way young people manage their mental health.

The bootcamp sessions were designed to give the proposed solutions a strong business development groundwork, kick-start the product or service development process and introduce the intricacies of implementing innovation within the healthcare sector.

Following this bootcamp, projects will receive support from organisations affiliated with Create Open Health. Support may include potential introductions to investors and direct investment in order to cultivate commercially sustainable propositions which could viably work within the UK health sector.

“It was fantastic, that after months of planning, and a lot of hard work from the Create Open Health team and the applicants, I was finally able to meet the successful entrepreneurs at the bootcamp,” says Professor Nigel Harris, Director of Innovation and Growth at The West of England AHSN. “I was really impressed by the diversity and range of ideas that were presented. We know that it is a tough challenge developing a product through to market, but look forward to seeing some of these come though and being able to make a difference to the many young people who are facing these challenges every day”.

Kate Adam, Business Investment Manager at Creative England, comments, “We were looking for ideas that directly support and empower children and young people, their caregivers or their community, and were thrilled with the creative and innovative applications we received. Children and young people are affected by mental health issues in such a variety of different ways, and there is no one size fits all, but the passion, knowledge, and personal experience of each shortlisted applicant has been an inspiration. We hope that by working together we can ultimately support these ideas and solutions to become a reality and in turn have a real impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in the UK”.

Gareth Morgan, who wants to develop a digital version of his ‘This Day I Am’ cards, commented: “Looking after your mental health is like looking after your teeth. You don’t only brush your teeth when you get toothache, instead it is a part of a daily routine of ongoing care. We see mental health in the same way, that’s why we created the ‘This Day I Am’ deck of cards, which offer a different activity each day to inspire users to get active and try something new”.

Cristobal Catalan has developed an idea based around virtual reality and gaming. He commented: “I hope that Create Open Health will help achieve my ambition to enable a proactive and preventive approach towards mental health and wellbeing of young people through self-help interventions and by building a global support network. I believe that self-help interventions through immersive media and technology will not only empower young people to take control and increase their resilience of mental health and wellbeing, but also help close the resource gap in the health sector”.

As part of the programme, Create Open Health worked with technology and software specialists, Simpleweb, and digital marketing and business development consultancy, Disruptive Thinking, to deliver the intensive two-day bootcamp. They also received support and advice from Off the Record throughout the assessment and application process, a charity which provides mental health support for young people across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Posted on May 29, 2019

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