1 in 10 people struggle with severe anxiety.The stigma associated with mental health and incredible peer pressure, makes this a global issue, reaching pandemic levels. Most teenagers are neither able to acknowledge it or even understand that it is an issue which they need to address, rather like a common cold.
A unique early intervention solution to adolescent anxiety - The MeeTwo app allows young people to post their problems, share solutions, access educational resources and receive expert help.
It has been designed to offer teenagers a safe trustworthy place to receive safe support. It is an early intervention support mechanism, created by an educational technologist alongwith students from schools in England.
At the core of the app is Peer support , where users can ask questions, limited to 300 characters. Rather inspired by Twitter and other social channels. Other users respond with advice or click the ‘MeeTwo’ button as well, if they are facing the same experience or problem. Users can also express themselves with works of art, photographs and long prose, allowing them a wider canvas to share what they're going through.The app is inclusive. Anonymity means young people do not have to worry about how they look or sound when they are seeking or giving help. The virtual nature of an app is proving to be useful for teenagers experiencing social isolation, social anxiety and those who are unable or reluctant to seek help from teachers and parents. Users of the app who have special needs such as aspergers/autism report that the app quells feelings of social isolation, and allows them to engage with other young people at their own pace. They find that the freedom to take their time posting is useful.
Safeguarding is a top priority and everything is pre-moderated to ensure that nothing goes live on the app without first being checked. Users who are identified as being at risk of harm are directed to specialist support. Many young people are worried about bullies or trolls on social media. Since all content on MeeTwo is pre-moderated, there is no harassment or bullying, and users state that they feel safer and more confident to share very personal issues.
There are some features and approaches which make it work for this space. Offensive comments wont go live, and users are asked to rewrite the post. They are aided on their journey of understanding the nuances of constructive and offensive communication, making this fairly unique. A network of experts are constantly monitoring the conversations and step in to facilitate or intervene when the conversation is going against the interest of the user.
MeeTwo won the Teach First Innovation Award 2017, was runner-up in the Santander University Entrepreneur awards for New Technology and Applications 2016 and won a School of Social Entrepreneur Start-up award in 2015.
The need and opportunity for technology to solve large prevalent societal challenges is immense. Please share other apps or services which you may have come across. You must read this article as well, if this subject is an area of interest.