Last week, I attended the launch event for Doc Ready, a website and app that will help young people get the most out of their GP appointments. With only 52% of young people comfortable talking to GP about mental health, this shows the vital importance of the app.
This importance was echoed by the 40 people packed into the room at Space for Change in Brighton, including representatives from Mind, NHS, YMCA, Right Here, YouthNet and Brighton & Hove Council, showing how many people believe in the project and want to help Doc Ready make a real difference in the lives of young people.
Most importantly, several of the young people who had been involved in designing Doc Ready were there to see the finished results for themselves. It was fantastic to meet some of the young people who would benefit from Doc Ready and see their reaction to the app.
In case you haven’t had a look at it yet, Doc Ready is a website that is aiming to help young people get the most out of their GP appointments when it comes to dealing with a mental health issue. By preparing young people with an agenda, details about their appointment, and information about what to expect from a GP visit, we can help both the patients and the doctors get the most out of the limited resources and time that they have to share.
Holding a launch event for Doc Ready was important to show people how the app worked, encourage them to spread the word about the app through their networks, and to ask for their opinion on what they thought about the app. It was also a great chance to thank all the young people who had taken part in the project, as well as celebrate a fantastic collaborative effort between Neontribe, Social Spider and Enabled by Design and FutureGov – the group of organisations behind Doc Ready.
Susan Blishen from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation kicked off the speeches by explaining what the problems Doc Ready are addressing: Rates of mental ill-health among young people are on the increase; Adolescence and early adulthood are peak times for onset of mental ill-health and times when early care is strongly recommended; but young people have the lowest service access of any age group.
The issues were brought home when we were shown some soundbites taken from young people about their feelings:
NHS services think they’re a series of entrances to getting help but they’re actually a series of barriers.
Mainstream health services don’t treat us with respect, or deliver attractive or accessible services when and where we need.
NHS services don’t listen to us and they can make us feel more isolated and alone.
I don’t want people to think I’m crazy.
It was powerful to hear how the young people felt about this issue, and this was strengthened when Rob, one of the young people who was involved in the workshops that led to the design of the app, gave an honest speech about how he felt Doc Ready had turned out.
You could tell he was speaking from the heart when he said that normally this kind of initiative doesn’t work because the app designers dictate what they think will work. Rob said that Doc Ready was different, with young people being involved in the design and build since the beginning, and the enthusiastic feedback from those young people at the launch event showed just that.
Rob also mentioned how Doc Ready will help him feel more confident when meeting with a GP. For me, I could see how his confidence had grown just by being a respected member of the Doc Ready workshops, where his opinion and views were respected and taken on board by the team.
It was fantastic to hear that many of the questions in the Q&A towards the end of the event were actually suggestions about how Doc Ready can help more people or reach different groups, rather than criticisms of the app itself. The Doc Ready team told us that they were aware that getting the app into the right people’s hands is key for it to help people.
Doc Ready is just one of several youth mental health health apps developed recently alongside a variety of other health apps. Others I’ve seen include the Well Happy App, which was developed by Kat Cormack and the team at NHS London, offering a handy guide to a range youth services in London as well as other features.
The other is My Journey, a mental health app aimed at helping young people be able to take more control over their mental health and recovery. The app has been shortlisted for an NHS Challenge Prize and named as an E-Health Insider Finalist for ‘Excellence in Mobile Health’.
For me, the best part of the launch event was seeing how everyone involved in the project really cared not just about the app, but creating a tool in collaboration with the young people it was aiming to help. This will hopefully ensure that young people use the app and GPs encourage them to use to use Doc Ready too.
To find out more about the app and to try it for yourself, go to www.docready.org