Aye Mind: Designing a mental health service for young people

Improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people by making better use of the Internet, social media and mobile technologies

Aye Mind set about improving mental health and wellbeing of young people by making better use of the Internet, social media and mobile technologies.

The project was funded by the European CHEST fund and is a partnership between Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS , the Mental Health Foundation and Young Scot

Can young people use the Internet, social media and mobile technologies to improve their mental health and wellbeing?

Evidence shows that young people aged 12-25 have the highest rate of mental illness across the lifespan. They also have the worst access to mental health services. With 90% of 16-24-year-olds in the UK using a smartphone, we saw an opportunity to utilise digital technologies. For many young people, it’s a seamless part of the world we live in. There isn’t a digital world – just a world with online and offline elements. Plugging technology into mental health services is an evidence for young people, given the degree to which technology is integrated into so many aspects of their lives.

Anyone who seeks to support young people’s wellbeing needs to engage with the digital world. It should be an essential development area, not an optional extra. It is no longer possible to support young people’s wellbeing without considering the impact of the internet and social media.

Whilst we are not advocating that digital replaces face-to-face support, it is a tool that can support adults who play a role in young people’s lives. Participants made a powerful plea to workers and services through a Manifesto for Mental Health: “Improve the quality of online content; we rely on it!” Thus, we set out to improve mental health resources online alongside young people as experts in this area.

ayemind.com is a platform to encourage positive approaches to youth wellbeing

What did we do?

We worked with young people aged 13-21 to identify what type of digital tools could improve mental wellbeing – both for themselves and their peers. We delivered:

  • Online platform including a directory of resources
  • Digital toolkit for all those who work or live with young people
  • Series of GIF and image-making workshops
  • Online campaign for young people.

An online platform with a map of resources

Finding mental health information and support online can be difficult. The platform helps young people and those supporting them identify mental wellbeing resources.

Wireframes were sketched out with web components of key features. These web components were produced with developers to be used throughout the website to be efficient on development time and consistent so users can easily maintain web pages in the backend of the website. This also helped ensure it would be mobile responsive so information and content could be accessed across all devices. After designing mock-ups to show how the pages would look and work, we further refined the website navigation.

This saw the launch of the Aye Mind website in June 2016.

A digital toolkit for anyone

The toolkit is an online and printable resource to build self-confidence in using digital tools when promoting mental wellbeing. It includes practical information, case studies, online resources and reflection material for anyone interested in learning more about new technology, health and wellbeing. The toolkit aims to:

  • Connect with digital resources,
  • Use opportunistic means to connect with those young people least likely to ‘stumble across’ them,
  • Engage the conversation about digital, social media and mental health with young people.

It’s a vast resource developed collaboratively and iteratively during sessions with Aye Mind partners, youth-related workers and organisations. You can have a browse by visiting ayemind.com/toolkit.

Mental wellbeing memes and gifs

The Internet is full of these – whether it’s the doge meme or a funny cat. But what’s the point of young people creating their own ones during workshops? Our aims are:

  • Open up dialogue on mental wellbeing in a humorous way
  • Provide space for young people to create their own mental wellbeing messages
  • Support young people develop their own online resources
  • Learn more about mental health and digital skills

We designed a series of activities and ran a series of image-making workshops with young people and youth workers across Glasgow.

Workshop participants said: “I learned more about mental health”, “I learned how to put ideas into real life” and “Making animations isn’t too complicated”.

The GIF making workshop proved so popular that we continue to run it for a wide age range of people at a series of conferences, with over 300 people and 400+ Aye Mind mental wellbeing images made. The approach was also published here by Horizon, the EU’s research and innovation magazine. With the open-source spirit of Aye Mind, we created a blog post with a guide on how to run the workshop complete with downloadable materials.

Bringing mental wellbeing resources to the platforms they use

The online campaign included: a dedicated landing page on Young Scot’s website, a GIF making guide, sharing the GIFs and images from the workshops on Aye Mind social media, a series of mental wellbeing listicle articles and involvement in Safer Internet Day.

For the listicle style articles, we used reliable mental wellbeing content from NHS choices and made it more youth-friendly. The articles feature a range of topics from sleep to panic attacks.

We teamed up with Young Scot to share the content with young people and Bored Panda to collate the articles. Young Scot encouraged the submission of GIFs through our GIF-making guide and we received 140 health wellbeing GIF submissions.

To increase awareness of online safety, we also took part in Safer Internet Day creating images based on messages people submitted.


Caitlin’s GIF, winner of the Adaptive Lab GIF making competition

The impact is onging

Taking about a difficult subject through fun memes

We found out that talking about a difficult subject is made easier through engaging and fun activities. When Caitlin came to the GIF workshop, her mum had recently survived a heart attack. She found it a difficult topic to discuss with friends, and the words ‘heart attack’ were triggering for her. During the activities, she opened up and talked about mental wellbeing and by the end of the workshop, she felt comfortable enough to use the the phrase ‘heart attack’ in her own GIF. This GIF went on to win the Wunderkammer GIF competition.

Hashtags, impressions, reach, views…

During the Aye Mind launch in June, #AyeMind  was trending on Twitter in Glasgow.

Aye Mind content was also well-received on Young Scot channels

  • 497 page views of GIF guide during campaign period
  • 140 GIF submissions
  • 62,512 twitter impressions and 149 retweets

On average, Aye Mind receives 10-20K impressions online, with around 79 retweets for only one month of the campaign in February 2016.

Awards and nominations

Aye Mind received a commendation from the People Make Glasgow’s Inspiring City Awards in 2016 as well as a nomination from The Herald Scottish Digital Business Awards 2016. The project won the Wunderkammer GIF competition for the GIFs that were made during the co-design workshops.

I have had the pleasure of working with Snook for over 2 and half years now and their fun and creative approach to projects makes work a bit more lively and exciting. We needed a company with ‘flair and pizazz’ and the technical know-how to engage with our young target audience and Snook certainly ‘ticked all the boxes’. The designers are multi-talented with the personalities to match – the perfect package in my opinion

– Heather Sloan, Health Improvement Lead (Mental Health), NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

  • We’re proud of the collective achievements of the Aye Mind “collaborative” and particularly the valuable role that young people have played in its development, but most importantly, we’re determined to ensure that the learning, resources and potential of this work continue to move ahead.
    – Dr Trevor Lakey, Health Improvement and Inequalities Manager – Mental Health, Alcohol and Drugs, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

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