Young people at risk of suicide now have access to clinically-proven digital tools thanks to a new partnership between health app evaluation organisation ORCHA and charity Papyrus.
ORCHA has provided the mental health charity with a microsite to allow young people to manage their own mental health.
Through the site they can gain access to approved apps alongside continued access to Papyrus’s helplines.
Suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK and without access to clinically verified apps, young people are at risk of downloading tools that could have an adverse effect on their health.
Liz Ashall-Payne, chief executive of ORCHA, said: “Connecting young people who are thinking about suicide with safe apps is of critical importance. We know young people look online for advice and tools, yet our research shows that there is a significant proportion of mental health apps that aren’t effective, safe or secure.
“That’s why we see the work we are doing with Papyrus, the national charity for the prevention of young suicide, as vital. Its helpline team, now with our platform, can connect young people with trusted tools to help in their recovery.
“I can’t think of a more essential and evident example for the role of health app testing and secure recommendation can play.”
Kelly Thorpe, head of helpline services at Papyrus, said the digital world could be daunting for young people, particularly if they’re vulnerable, making it vital that safe options are easily available.
“We are all so dependent on our phones, we do our banking on apps, we stay connected with other people via apps, and what we saw was an influx of apps, most of them free, for young people to manage their mental health,” she said.
“It was just becoming so difficult for us to review all these apps and make sure they’re safe, make sure they are doing what they say on the tin.
“Young people were asking things like ‘What’s going to happen to the information we put in the apps’, and we didn’t have the answer.
“That’s why the partnership with ORCHA is really crucial. It not only takes the pressure off advisors to have all of the answers, but it’s working to empower young people to take control of their own emotional wellbeing and thoughts of suicide.”
ORCHA reviews apps according to their clinical effectiveness, data privacy and user experience, ensuring that users will be able to distinguish between safe and unsafe apps.
“Having the ORCHA site available, sitting alongside the Papyrus website, people can now choose whether they want to text or email us, pick up the phone and speak to us, or whether they want to explore apps to manage on their own,” Ms Thorpe added.
“What works for one person isn’t always going to work for another. Now anyone who explores our website knows there’s a few options we can offer them.”