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27 May 2022

New platform looks to provide mental health support to school children

A new platform, developed with the help of Master’s students from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, has the potential to provide up to one million secondary school pupils with mental health support across the UK.

school exam pupil student

The platform, Govox Wellbeing, is being offered to schools as part of a £5m scheme to help tackle teenage suicide rates and has the backing of Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi MP. It has been designed to act as an early warning system for at-risk teenagers, signposting them to support from charities like Papyrus and the Mental Health Foundation.

The programme will allow schools to assess pupils' overall mental wellbeing, their ability to cope with their work and exams, and any other pressures or issues they may be facing. It provides ongoing monitoring, increasing the visibility of those struggling in school, offers personal wellbeing reports on each pupil, and signposts to relevant organisations if external support is required.

"Identifying at risk individuals is key to ensuring that they can access help quickly. Govox’s approach, using short wellbeing surveys completed every few weeks that are tailored to the organisation, will potentially increase the likelihood that those who are struggling will be able to receive support."

Dr Sam Norton, a Reader in Research Methods and Statistics from King’s IoPPN who provided advice to the Govox team

Dr Lyndsay Hughes, Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology at King’s IoPPN, leads the MSc Health Psychology at King's which includes two students placement being placed at Govox. She said, “It’s vital that students have the opportunity to develop their skills and apply the knowledge from their course in a real world setting. This particular project, organised by Dr Whitney Scott and Dr Zoe Moon, allowed a student to review the wellbeing question bank against models of wellbeing, helping the GoVox team to build an evidence-base about how these could be used to target those in need of support with relevant information and resources.”

Govox Wellbeing was founded in 2018 by Richard Lucas, after a number of boys at his local rugby club died due to suicide.

According to Young Minds, one in six children aged five to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in 2021.

Richard Lucas, Founder of Govox Wellbeing, commented “[This launch] marks a very important day for the wellbeing of pupils in our schools across the country. We truly want to make mental health support available to as many pupils in the UK as possible. Tight budgets should not stop them getting the help that, both the data and the personal experience of so many, shows is urgently needed. It is time to remove the stigma around talking about how we feel and move on from the ‘man up’ generation.”

Schools have the option to sign up to the platform from now until early June, with support being offered to students in time for the new academic year.

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In this story

Sam Norton

Reader in Research Methods and Statistics

Lyndsay Hughes

Senior Lecturer