With the growing number of mental health problems, a mobile app has been developed to help young people manage their emotions.
SafeSpace/GħallKenn, an open-access free digital tool for young people aged 18+, launched today and is available in English and Maltese through Apple and Android app stores.
The app was acquired by BlueIce (NHS Oxford Health) by the University of Malta and the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.
MFWS Chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said: “The festive season may bring joy to many, but it is also proving to be a mental challenge for others. Young people have borne the greatest brunt of the pandemic lockdowns and this app will help provide the tools to build resilience.”
The app, which aims to offer young people a safe space, was presented in Parliament in the presence of Speaker Anglu Farrugia, Denis Vella Baldacchino, Commissioner for Mental Health, Mrs Coleiro Preca and University Prorector Tanya Sammut Bonnici, Chair of Psychiatric Services Anton Greek.
Studies have shown that children and young people worldwide were particularly hard hit by the pandemic. A non-binding report passed by the European Parliament in September says between 10 and 20 per cent of children and young people faced mental health problems before the pandemic and several lockdowns, a figure which is now around 20 to 25 per cent.
Introducing the SafeSpace app, Prof. Carmel Cefai, director of the university’s Center for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health, said the app aims to help young people learn how to regulate their emotions and seek appropriate and timely professional help be able.
SafeSpace is an evidence-based app developed with young people and adapted from BlueIce, which has been shown in clinical trials to reduce symptoms of depression/anxiety and self-harm.
The app includes a mood diary that helps young people monitor their thoughts and moods; as well as simple techniques to guide them on how to regulate their emotions to reduce stress and live their mood.
It also raises awareness of the local support services available – such as Helpline 1579, 179 and kellimni.com – and encourages young people in difficulty to seek help.
Prof Cefai said: “The app is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for professional medical, psychotherapeutic, counseling or other forms of intervention offered by professionals or other service providers, but rather a self-help tool for young people in these challenging times.”
SafeSpace/GħallKenn can also be used by practitioners working with young people as an extension of their intervention and support.
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