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New app to help support young people in crisis

23 November 2017

New app to help support young people in crisis

Mental health workers are excited to have renewed support for a new tool to aid in their efforts to support young people in crisis.

The ‘Ask Ruru’ app logs text messages and calls between a community mental health worker and a young person. It enables workers to insert crisis and mental wellbeing skills they have previously discussed with clients.

Texts and calls can be analysed to give a wider view of clients’ state of mind over a period of time, or to talk with them about learning reflect on – and become more effective at dealing with – distress.

“Young adults and teenagers generally rely on mobile calls and text messages to communicate, and each text or call provide an insight into what they’re experiencing in that moment,” said nurse Dion Howard (image attached).

“Communicating more effectively with young people via their phones can give us a wider picture of how their state of mind may be progressing or changing. This will help us provide safer and more effective crisis coaching.”

‘Ask Ruru’ is the brainchild of Howard and developers Jaymesh Master, Michael Smith and Rosie Parry. It is being developed with the help of the Dev Academy, a Wellington web development school.

It was runner-up in this year’s Clinicians’ Challenge – a joint Ministry of Health and Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ) initiative that seeks innovative healthcare technology – and won the HiNZ Wellington Hackathon in 2015.

“The next step is to develop the platform and app further, and ensure it meets the Ministry of Health’s digital safety standards.

“We’re excited to build on the name recognition that has come through the Challenge and Hackathon and get people using ‘Ask Ruru’ in their work supporting young people in mental health crisis.”


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