New research from Wysa has revealed that teenagers would rather turn to TikTok in times of a mental health crisis than speak to a teacher, underlining the scale of the youth mental health crisis.

According to Wysa, an artificial intelligence-based ’emotionally intelligent’ mental health service, eight in ten teens claim to suffer mental health symptoms, with one in three warranting professional support for depression or anxiety. Although more than half have not accessed support, 33% say they have looked for answers on social media channel TikTok. Just 21% said they had sought help from a teacher.

Emma Taylor, CAMHS lead at Wysa, said: “This research is clearly showing us that support isn’t available right when our young people want it. Resources mean that young people who present for clinical support have limited and time-bound treatment at specific times of the day – which may not be when they most need help. An always-on, flexible solution, that helps them at the moment of need is necessary.”

With significant numbers of young people already using their phones to access support, Wysa believes that clinically validated resources should be made available on the devices, to support their mental health.

Of those surveyed, just 25% said they would speak to CAMHS services for help. This leaves many more at the mercy of potentially inaccurate or unregulated content via social media content.

Supporting the need for a clinically validated and backed digital solution, Wysa found that 78% of teens said they would prefer to speak to an app, rather than their teachers. Sixty percent said they would rather consult an app over a doctor.

Wysa’s new integration

Wysa’s mental health support tool is now being used by a free NHS mental health support service. Steps2Wellbeing has recently launched a new website to help people find the help they need.

The service is available to residents in Dorset, who are able to access talking therapies, online courses and guided self-help tools.

The new website has been designed to ensure accessing mental health support is as easy as possible, and includes an online self-referral form. Visitors to the site can also use the Wysa digital assistant to guide them through the online referral process. It can also help them access the resources and advice ahead of treatment beginning.

Wysa recently joined the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) for the 2023 programme, which is supporting the NHS Long Term Plan priorities by boosting uptake of promising innovations.