Can Technology Improve how we Monitor Mental Health and Wellbeing

In this blog, Jon Ford, CEO of Life on Time Ltd- the creators of YouHQ - has written a guest blog talking about the role technology can play in the support of mental health and wellbeing and how YouHQ can help teachers to support children with their mental health and wellbeing.

I’m Jon Ford, CEO of Life on Time Ltd - the creators of youHQ – a digital wellbeing platform for schools.   I’m a qualified sport and exercise scientist, psychotherapist and have a passion for helping people get the most out of themselves - in sport, school, work and life.  

Our multi-functional wellbeing app is a digital pastoral hub for schools, enabling them to highlight students in need and giving all staff and students the tools to thrive.

Q1. Through our own research and data capturing we’ve noticed, across education, a dip in the mental health and wellbeing of educators. Is that something you’re seeing at YouHQ? (any stats to include?)

Yes, without a doubt.  It’s something that we have been concerned about since the pandemic started. A survey conducted by the National Education Association (NEA) found that 58% of educators reported feeling emotionally drained at the end of the workday, and 45% reported feeling overwhelmed by their workload. 

Unfortunately, we don't see this trend slowing as we hear of more staff leaving the profession - it seems staff are becoming more overloaded.  So much so, we have dedicated a whole area and set of features to teacher wellbeing within youHQ.

Q2. How has the Covid-19 Pandemic played a role in the decline of the mental health and wellbeing of both teachers and students?

It’s had a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of both teachers and students. Here are some of the ways we know its contributed to mental ill health; 

  • Social isolation: With remote learning and social distancing measures in place, students and teachers had limited social interactions, which at the time lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.  We are now seeing that many young people struggle in social situations with issues such as social anxiety.
  • Uncertainty and anxiety: The pandemic has brought about unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety for teachers and students, including concerns about safety, health, and job security.
  • Increased workload: Teachers had to adapt to new teaching methods and technologies, which became time-consuming and required additional preparation. Teachers are now having to deal with students with higher needs, from behaviour to poor mental health, which many don't feel adequately trained to deal with.
  • Financial stress: The pandemic and the cost of living crisis has resulted in financial hardship for many families, which can increase stress and anxiety for both teachers and students.
  • Trauma and grief: The pandemic has resulted in significant loss and trauma for many individuals, including the loss of loved ones, jobs, and social connections. This can lead to increased levels of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Although the Covid pandemic restrictions have now ended, there seems to still be a hangover which many believe will continue for some time.  It’s therefore important that schools are able to provide support to those individuals who are still struggling with the aftermath and trauma it has left behind.

Q3. How does your wellbeing and mood tracker work to capture, record and analyse mood and wellbeing?

It allows students to self-reflect and reach out for support through our digital application on their school or personal device.  Every two weeks students are asked to fill in a WHO-5 wellbeing survey, a recommended wellbeing survey in the ‘A toolkit for schools and colleges’ created by Public health england and the Anna Freud centre. 

Students also have the opportunity to register how they are feeling on each login with our intuitive mood check In.  Here students can register their mood, reach out for support, learn about the emotions they are feeling and also let the school know reasons behind why they may be feeling a certain way.  Schools get important insights into trends across the school, but vitally are able to pick up on those students who may not have the confidence to speak up in a normal class situation.

Q4. We encourage all schools and educators to track these ‘low level’ concerns via a secure, central recording system. In your experience, what benefit is there to recording mood and wellbeing?

We are hearing first hand from our schools, that a drop in mood and wellbeing can be the first sign of a safeguarding concern.  Our schools are picking up on numerous concerns from children they would've missed without youHQ mood data.  We therefore believe teachers can't be expected to rely on just their intuition for picking up low level concerns.  Instead schools should have digital systems, allowing them to easily measure wellbeing and record student voice.

“It’s helped us to reach all those students who haven't had the courage or confidence to reach out" - Katie, Social and Emotional Mental Health Lead, Rutland, UK

As a result of using youHQ students become more self-aware, emotionally intelligent and self-reflective. This enhances holistic social, emotional learning and personal development skills.

Q5. What role does prevention and early intervention play?

We have several examples whereby early intervention which has been picked up by a youHQ low mood alert has helped students emotionally, behaviourally and academically.  One example is of a student who was always causing disruption within his class.  After registering a low mood and noting the reason why, the teacher could step in early.  The child now has improved behaviour and is performing well academically.

A growing proportion of students are far more comfortable reaching out and giving context around their feelings digitally, which is allowing schools to get better insight and step in early before a small issue becomes a crisis.

Q6. What single piece of advice would you give to a safeguarding lead who is responsible for the wellbeing of pupils in a school setting?

We thoroughly recommend putting a digital measure in place for wellbeing and mood. As our wellbeing can fluctuate daily we recommend running a survey check in weekly or bi-weekly.

Children are becoming more comfortable communicating digitally and less so in person.  This is even more true for those children who may be more vulnerable.  

My advice would be to make sure you are offering a way for students to reach out for support digitally and that you have an online system to record it.  This doesn't have to be a paid for solution like youHQ, it could simply be a google form survey every week with an opportunity for them to reach out for support.  This may not create the safe, connected pastoral hub, reports system and library of bespoke, tracked resources we do, but it's a good place to start if you have a limited budget.

You can try youHQ for FREE

Posted Date

18th May 2023

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