Kids' mental health app sees spike in users in COVID-19 crisis


A mental health app for young people has seen a spike of 168% during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak – and as a result of the increased demand is now freely available to young people across the UK.

The ThinkNinja app, from the digital health firm Healios, has been updated with specific content to bring self-help knowledge and skills to children and young people aged 10 to 18 years.

ThinkNinja wants to help young people to understand the fears relating to the virus, consider isolation struggles, and learn mental strength and coping techniques to use during the upheavals caused by COVID-19.

Healios officially launched the app at the end of 2018, and it is a mental health and emotional wellbeing app for children and young people that aims to equip them with self-management skills and interactive content that is easy to translate into their daily lives.

From topics such as coping skills for day to day stresses, to more complex issues including unhelpful thoughts and thinking traps that are driving symptoms of low mood and anxiety, young people can move around the app with the guidance of a virtual avatar called ‘Wiseninja’.

The app has been built by combining child psychology and design expertise, with input from children and young people.

Wiseninja guides the user through an automated text-based interactive conversation and clinically-related questions that are built on evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) principles.

Healios, which provides the NHS with specialist digital mental health, autism, and ADHD services has made the app free for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

The company has also joined forces with the children’s mental health charity Place2Be to raise awareness of the app among all young people aged 10 to 18.

Richard Andrews, founder and CEO of Healios said: “The data we have collected from our young users is suggesting to us that the COVID-19 crisis is creating and exacerbating mental health difficulties for young people.

“We knew from our existing users that Thinkninja has been incredibly beneficial, so we have acted swiftly to make the app available across the UK.”

ThinkNinja can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

In a separate development real-world evidence specialist Pulse Infoframe said it is leading an online study on its healthie platform to investigate the long-term impact the changing global economy, job instability, and the disruption of daily routines may have on the mental health of personnel, teams and businesses.

The de-identified data captured and stored on healthie could provide leaders and employers with visibility into the state of health of employees.

It's hoped the information will allow employers to identify groups that may be in crisis and give direct support where necessary.