Preventive Digital Mental Health for Children in Primary Schools: Acceptability and Feasibility Study


Davies SM, Jardine J, Gutridge K, Bernard Z, Park S, Dawson T, Abel KM, Whelan P. Preventive Digital Mental Health for Children in Primary Schools: Acceptability and Feasibility Study. JMIR Form Res 2021;5(12):e30668. doi: 10.2196/30668

A study tested the feasibility of integrating a low-cost, scalable, and innovative digital mental health intervention in schools in the Greater Manchester area in the United Kingdom. Researchers piloted a digital intervention consisting of two components: (1) Lexplore, a reading assessment using eye-tracking technology to assess reading ability and identify any atypicality, and (2) Lincus, a web-based platform for emotional, social, and physical well-being measures wellbeing for monitoring and includes customized child-relevant information, local resources, and links. The intervention was implemented at a primary school for 6 weeks and all children were eligible for the study. During the 6-week period, Lexplore assessments were conducted twice in each school and participants were asked to spend about 5 minutes during free time every morning to complete surveys on the Lincus platform. Students, parents, and teachers also provided qualitative feedback about the digital platforms at group workshops or appointments. Results demonstrated that 88% of students completed both the initial and follow-up assessments for Lexplore and on average, approximately 1 Lincus survey per user per week was recorded. Overall, children and teachers found the digital intervention engaging, usable, and acceptable. However, there were some important barriers identified: log-in difficulties, incorporating the Lincus and Lexplore assessments into routines, availability of tablets across classes, and poor parental engagement. Overall, the intervention was well-received, and the study identified barriers and facilitators which will inform future research in this setting.