NELFT began to look at the use of the digital technology as an early support option two years ago and for the past year WYSA has been number one on their top five apps to try list.
by Emma Selby, Digital Lead, NELFT
Children's Mental Health in UK - a crisis
The Lightening review report, May 2016, showed that around 1 in 250 children were being referred to CAMHS however of these 28% did not receive a service and 58% went on waiting lists which ranged up to 200 days (Children’s Commissioner, 2016).
In the UK and across the world we are facing sharp increases in the number of young people seeking mental health support. It is estimated 1 in 10 young people now suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition but that 70% of young people in the UK do not receive the early intervention support that they need (Mental Health Foundation, 2017). These figures align with the view of staff, young people and their networks, in suggesting that currently there is a lack of support at an early intervention level. This lack of early intervention, alongside the modern day stressors of our world, has resulted in a decline in emotional resilience.
The need : building emotional resilience early
Whilst there are a number of factors that influence on emotional resilience, such as age, gender, trauma and natural resilience, emotional resilience can also be developed by building skills that increase the characteristics of an emotionally resilient person. However support to do this is limited as it falls below the threshold of CAMHS services and schools often lack the time or evidence base to consistently offer this support on a face to face level.
Wysa helps users to develop a positive self-talk by using AI to create an external and responsive self-reflection environment.
11-15 year olds make up the highest referral categories for CAMHS and are equally amongst the highest users of technology in today’s society [Ofcom, 2017]. Apps like Wysa recognise this need and provide an alternative form of support for adults and young people alike.
Wysa’s use of artificial intelligence to adapt self-help tools and cognitive restructuring techniques helps users to develop a positive self-talk by using AI to create an external and responsive self-reflection environment. Developing the right attitude is seen as a key skill in increasing emotional resilience as is becoming aware and developing a locus of control. Wysa's reflective and motivational nature encourages users to engage with the tools and work through their problems at a time and space that suits them as a result builds and develops these key skills, all of which ultimately add up to a higher degree of emotional resilience! [Very Well Mind, 2017]
Wysa in practice at NELFT
Since recommending Wysa as option for young people in their Recovery Journey we have seen our culture of digital therapeutics thrive. We receive consistently high feedback from young people that the app has allowed them to feel more confident
One example of WYSA in practice is at North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT). NELFT began to look at the use of the digital technology as an early support option two years ago and for the past year WYSA has been number one on their top five apps to try list.
As a large NHS Trust they cover children’s mental health services for North East London, Essex, Kent and Medway with over 19,000 children living and attending school in these areas. By recommending Wysa the trust hope to encourage young people and their families to make use of the self-reflective and skills building opportunity as a means to build emotional resilience and lessen the chances of mental health conditions developing in the future.
Other young people have actually chosen to use WYSA over a referral to CAMHS as they really enjoyed the conversational nature and skills building exercises and felt this is all the support they need.
However recommendation of the app goes beyond pre-service and the trust will often make recommendations for the app during assessment and post intervention as well. Across Essex Wysa is now included in the assessment pack as a tool that can be given to young people to use in order to build that skill of inner reflection. Some cases may be closed to the service at this point as skills building was the extent of the support required however others may continue into therapy where the trust will also recommend Wysa as part of a discharge plan to encourage young people to continue to practice and develop the emotional resilience skills they have learnt.
“Since recommending Wysa as option for young people in their Recovery Journey we have seen our culture of digital therapeutics thrive. We receive consistently high feedback from young people that the app has allowed them to feel more confident but that it has also helped them practice speaking to others and therefore makes coming to therapy easier if that is what is needed.
Other young people have actually chosen to use WYSA over a referral to CAMHS as they really enjoyed the conversational nature and skills building excercises and felt this is all the support they need. Due to this initial feedback we have now included WYSA in our new app’s training for staff and stakeholders to encourage all of our networks to become aware of the app, how it works and how best to recommend it to the young people in our area” Emma Selby, Digital Lead, NELFT.