The current crisis in adolescent mental health is a major problem. One in ten children has a clinically significant mental health problem, but a much larger number suffer from mild to moderate anxiety on a daily basis. Anxiety is a debilitating distraction which inhibits a young person’s ability to pay attention and process and retrieve information (Ormrod, 2008). Referral rates of young people to specialist mental health services increased by more than 40% between 2003 and 2009/10. The cost to society of adult mental health problems is currently estimated at more than £100 billion and half of lifetime mental ill health is already present by the age of 14, so prevention targeted at younger people would result in greater personal, social and economic benefits than intervention at any other time in the lifespan (DOH, 2014).
What is MeeTwo?
MeeTwo is a solution; a safe, moderated, app delivering peer support and expert help to teenagers. MeeTwo encourages young people to articulate both problems and solutions and is designed to tackle mid level anxieties that can escalate if left unchecked. MeeTwo will be deployed through schools; the 2015 update to the SEND Code of Practice makes teachers responsible for the wellbeing of all their students. MeeTwo is a crucial addition to school pastoral care because “improvements in social support promote better physical and mental health” (Cohen et al. 2000) reduce sexual risk taking, improve school attendance, school grades and graduation rate” (Advocates For Youth).
How does it work?
MeeTwo combines the best features of peer support with the online advantages of accessibility, affordability and anonymity. Anonymity gives teenagers the confidence to raise a wider range of issues and classifications such as gender have been eliminated so that boys feel as comfortable as girls posting questions. When a problem is posted, other users can reply and click a MeeTwo button to register a shared experience. Watching the MeeTwo clicks mount up reassures the person that they are not alone and young people can offer each other advice on how they coped, or solved that problem. Experts are on hand to provide specialist input if required and all posts are moderated. As an independent brand, MeeTwo will avoid the stigma associated with seeking ‘help’ from more formal support groups or charities. MeeTwo will also provide a creative platform for short solution focussed, or motivational text, audio or movie narratives made by teenagers, for teenagers.
Who is behind it?
MeeTwo is the brainchild of Suzi Godson and Dr Kerstyn Comley. Suzi is a psychologist and one of the country's leading experts on sex and relationships. She has written an advice column in The Times newspaper for the last twelve years and is the author of several books on sex, relationships and body image. Kerstyn is an education technologist and a founder and governor of Wapping High School, London. The venture has the support of many of the country's leading experts in adolescent mental health including Nick Midgley, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist in Family Support Services and Jonny Benjamin, mental health campaigner and ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness.
How can I get involved?
MeeTwo is currently being piloted in five schools around the country with positive results. Wellbeing data is being collected from users and controls using the WarwickEdinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) throughout the pilot. This data will be available to schools and university researchers when complete. We are now keen to expand the pilot and work with more schools. If your school would be interested please contact Kerstyn or Suzi on info@MeeTwo.co.uk or visit the MeeTwo website.