The mental health of my child – is there an app for that?

By Brad Morgan
17 July 2019

All families face challenges that can impact the social and emotional wellbeing of their children.

Particularly during times of family conflict or relationship breakdowns, a lot of parents worry about how their children are coping mentally and emotionally, but we don’t always know where to find the best help or advice.

A powerful starting point for parents is a tool like the Child360 app. This app is the first of its kind in Australia and it has been developed by Emerging Minds to give parents a simple, trustworthy, pro-active tool for taking stock of how kids are tracking emotionally and socially.

The Child360 app allows parents to develop a confidential profile of their child and answer questions about areas like:

  • parent-child relationships
  • emotions and behaviour
  • routines
  • communication, and
  • support networks.

After answering the questions, parents select an area to work on and then choose from three levels of action, including:

  • Accessing information through articles/ videos / podcasts.
  • Speaking to someone via an online or phone service.
  • Making an appointment to see a GP or child and maternal health nurse.

Child360 was developed in partnership with parents, health professionals, researchers and parenting experts, and draws on evidence-based practices to guide parents towards credible, quality information that best suits their situation and their children’s needs.

Parents can even download a letter from the app to take to their GP, with prompters to help with discussing areas of concern.

We shared the app with Sydney based GP and renowned medical academic, Dr Penny Burns and she says she wishes the app was around when she was parenting young children. Dr Burns recognises that as parents we’re sometimes offered conflicting advice from well-meaning friends and neighbours and that having an evidence-based guide can help us see what we’re doing well and what needs work.

Dr Burns agrees that managing emotions and social interactions in children when they’re young will teach them how to lead healthier emotional lives in adulthood.

In developing the app, Emerging Minds also worked with Queensland mother of four, Phoebe, who has experienced family and domestic violence and says it can be difficult to know when young children are struggling with mental or emotional issues because they don’t always have the words to express how they feel – are they just having a bad day or something else going on?

Phoebe says the app helps to make sense of the experiences or negative feelings a child could be displaying and the signs to look out for.

In the words of Dr Penny Burns, the Child360 app can support parents to create a healthier emotional future for all children, not just those with bigger issues.

Dr Burns and I are both pleased this app is available as an evidence-based guide for parents to identify what they’re doing well and what could be done better, so that issues are detected early and bigger problems are prevented from developing in the future.

The Child360 app can be found at https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/child360/id1452128529?mt=8 and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.portal.emapp&hl=en

You can also find guides to the app here:
Promo: https://vimeo.com/341931178 ;
Guide 1: https://vimeo.com/341932386;
Guide 2: https://vimeo.com/343586839;
Guide 3: https://vimeo.com/343587665

Brad Morgan is the Director Emerging Minds National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health. Emerging Minds currently leads the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, delivered in partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), the Australian National University (ANU), the Parenting Research Centre (PRC) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). Emerging Minds develops mental health policy, services, interventions, training, programs and resources in response to the needs of professionals, children and their families. These include online resources such as practice tools, podcasts, videos and innovative online training courses. We partner with family members, national and international organisations to implement evidence-based practice into the Australian context. Our resources are freely available at www.emergingminds.com.au.

The National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program.

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