MindHelper – Empowering youth in mental health
Mental Health issues are increasing among young people in Denmark. Therefore, the tele-psychiatric department and the Health Innovation of Southern Denmark, Region of Southern Denmark and 4 municipalities within the Region of Southern Denmark have developed an online portal – Mindhelper.dk, in partnership med Medcom.
Mindhelper.dk offers mental health advice and information for 13-20 year olds. The site hosts over 150 articles, diverse guides and videos addressing, but not limited to;
- Anxiety and stress
- Difficult feeling and thoughts
- Love and sex
- Eating disorders
- Sadness or depression
- Dependency and misuse,
Many young people’s first step to obtaining help and or information is often the internet. Since the launch of Mindhelper there are more and more young people that have logged on to Mindhelper.dk. Mindhelper as a digital mental health solution has a number of advantages for the targeted focus group. Mindhelper is a flexible tool as it can be accessed 24 hours daily, it is an informal platform, it is user controlled and provides anonymity.
Mindhelper reaches out to professionals who work with teens, so they are onboard with Mindhelper’s concept and inform teens about Mindhelper.dk. Professionals have the possibilities to order flyers, packages etc. for their institutions to raise awareness of mindhelper as a mental health service for 13-20 year olds. Additionally, Mindhelper is also a portal to assist and support professionals working with teens, where teachers are using articles from Mindhelper in classrooms and school psychologist refer students to articles on Mindhelper.dk regarding exam anxiety and stress.
The project arose from an ambition to develop a user-controlled first step in a "stepped care" approach, where young people's difficulties to resolve at the lowest effective level of specialization. A focal point of Mindhelper is to help ensure that young people get early self-help when their mental health is threatened. In developing Mindhelper, 350 young people participated in workshops, user tests and interviews to address the needs of the focus group – young people of 13-20 years. Furthermore, young people are involved in two youth panels, that give ongoing feedback on content, design and functionality to ensure Mindhelper’s content adapts to the needs of the user.
Mindhelper’s aim is for young people to seek help earlier in the hope that minor mental health issues do not escalate to major mental health issues. Many young persons may have difficulty expressing themselves to parents, teachers or others and feel alone with their thoughts and feelings.
Mindhelper offers young persons’;
- Knowledge on mental health - is the key to breakdown taboos. Information can be obtained through articles & interview addressing 14 different themes, “Test your knowledge” on a specific issue and 50 video interviews in providing self-help and in a way that will inspire young persons to take positive action in addressing their problems
- Advice on handling their mental health issue – provides practical tools and coping strategies in situations such as; exam pressure, stress, depression
- Roadmap – where to go to for further help – this is specific to the type of issue one has - maybe talking to a parents is the best way to solve the problem and/or maybe professional counselling is needed. Mindhelper guides the user and informs about different possibilities in addition to, how to ask the doctor for help, what is it like to talk to a psychologist? How can you get help at your school, where are there local help services in the municipalities
- Personal help in Mindhelper’s mailbox - with the mailbox, the user is able to ask personal and more specific questions while maintaining 100% anonymity. However, questions and answers are published on mindhelper.dk for all to read and use in their own mental health journeys, alongside information on which organizations can offer help in such situations.
Mindhelper has had over 1,000.000 visitors since it was launched in 2016. Nine out of ten users have expressed, that Mindhjelper contains information that they found useful in addressing their queries and mental health issues.
Mindhelper website has had a larger than expected impact, revealing the need for an online mental health platform for young people. Therefore, since the 1st January 2019, all regions in Denmark are now involved in further developing and upscaling Mindhelper to be a national online portal, providing mental health information and advice to young persons. This ensure mental health equity for young people over all of Denmark.