Carnegie Education

How digital innovation is being used to support the mental wellbeing of young people

I have two specialist interests in education: Building a whole school approach to enabling a culture of mental wellbeing and Building a robust digital strategy which closes the gap and sets up the stakeholders in the school for the 21st century workplace. 


Image of technical equipment

In the past, I have been able to be the Lead in the school for the Digital Technology and Communications Dept and the Senior Mental Health Lead. These two specialisms have taken me naturally to my next interest: digital wellbeing in schools.

Lately, I have been researching what a digital wellbeing strategic approach looks like. 

One of the areas I am fascinated by is how digital innovation can be harnessed to support the mental health of students in schools.

Digital innovation has the potential to provide children with access to mental health resources and support that may not be available in their communities. For example, virtual therapy sessions, online support groups, and mental health apps can all help children and young people to manage their mental health.

Additionally, digital tools like Telehealth can help overcome barriers such as transportation and location that may prevent children from accessing mental health care.

Below is a very quick overview of some of the digital technology available to our young people and schools here in the UK.


Virtual therapy sessions

The Kooth: is a free, confidential, online support service for young people in the UK, providing online counseling and emotional well-being support. 

SilverCloud Health is a digital mental health platform that offers online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs for a range of mental health conditions. 

Both these can be a convenient option for children who live in remote areas or have difficulty accessing traditional therapy. In one school, I saw Kooth being factored into the timetabled day for young people to access in a safe environment with another adult available to support . Thinking about where and when young people will access this support is a point I come to again a bit later 


Online support groups

Big White Wall is an online mental health support service available to residents of the UK, providing access to a community of peers and trained professionals.

The Mix is a free, confidential, digital support service for young people under 25 in the UK, providing emotional support and information on a range of issues.

Side by Side is a mental health social network, managed by the mental health charity Mind. It aims to provide a supportive online community for people aged 18 and over to chat about their lives, including their mental health, and be themselves.


Mental health apps

There are a variety of mental health apps available for children and young people, such as WorryBox and MoodGYM, which can help with anxiety, depression, and stress management. Headspace for Kids can help Children learn mindfulness techniques to stay calm and relaxed. They learn about other topics as well — such as compassion, creativity and kindness.

MyMoodTracker is an app that allows students to track and monitor their moods, emotions, and behaviors over time. I have recently heard someone say they are using EduKit in their school.

EduKit enables school students to complete wellbeing surveys and to receive helpful advice and support, provided by their school.


Telehealth is a method of providing health care services remotely, through phone, videoconferencing or messaging. Telehealth can be especially useful for children and young people who live in remote areas or have mobility challenges, providing them access to mental health services. This does not appear to be happening throughout the UK - yet - but is currently operating in US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia

Virtual reality

Virtual reality is being used to treat phobias, PTSD, and other mental health conditions by immersing patients in a virtual environment that simulates the situation they fear. This allows the patient to confront their fears in a controlled, safe environment. For example: The NHS now offers new virtual reality treatment for patients with social anxiety.


Chat-bots or conversational agents are computer programs that simulate human conversations. They are increasingly used in healthcare, for example, to help manage mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety and for general well-being. Chat-bots can provide mental health support to children and young people through instant messaging. They can be programmed to provide information, advice, and even basic therapy. Woebot is a free, AI chat-bot app, created to help people cope with feelings of depression and anxiety by encouraging people to examine how they react to challenging situations.

Digital Support for Teachers, Carers, Parents & Families

Mindfulness in Schools Project offers mindfulness-based stress reduction programs for primary schools in the UK, including an online course for teachers.

The Place2Be provides a range of mental health and well-being support services for primary schools in the UK, including an online service for parents and caregivers.

Young Minds is a UK-based charity that provides mental health support and information for children and young people, including an online helpline and resources for parents and caregivers.

The Anna Freud Centre provides a range of mental health support services for children and young people in the UK, including an online service for parents and caregivers.


Digital programs being used in classrooms

GoZen is an online program that provides evidence-based tools and resources to help children manage their anxiety and improve their mental well-being.

MindUp is an evidence-based program that teaches students mindfulness and emotional regulation skills through a curriculum of brain-based lessons, meditations, and activities.


It's important to note that these examples provided are not the only products out there nor are they an endorsement. Furthermore, any digital products promoted or purchased should be used with guidance from mental health professionals and teachers.

I have a lot of faith in digital innovation to support young people’s mental health and wellbeing but my key advice for all SMHL and school leaders would be to ask yourself these questions:

  • Who it's for and involve these key stakeholders before choosing
  • Why will you/they use it - what is its purpose? How will you benchmark progress and impact?
  •  When will you or the young person use it - can you build it into the school day? What training have your staff/students been given? 
  • Which platform or device will you use it on or allow the young Person to access it on? Is this compatible with schools 'no mobile phone' policies?
  • What is the outcome you are hoping for ? Raise awareness? Signpost? Practical advice?

I know there are hundreds of examples I have missed out so would love to hear from you about what you are currently using in your schools.


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