To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, 2021, a new app for young people has today launched which uniquely offers free 24/7 access to therapists and real-time support for young people in crisis or struggling with their mental health.

The Hidden Strength app is available to people aged 13-24 and facilitates a community of like-minded people to anonymously come together and support each other, with round-the-clock access to tools and activities that promote holistic mental wellbeing.

The app launch follows research commissioned by Hidden Strength1, which found that of the 3.3 million people in the UK aged 13-24 suffering from something that affects their mental health2. In the North East, 42% of young people say they are suffering from mental ill-health, and 62% of them would take up therapy if it was free to access.

Hidden Strength will help combat the UK’s growing mental health crisis which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; its research revealed more than two thirds (67%) of young people in the North East who are suffering from mental ill-health have only done so since the first lockdown in March 2020, whilst 68% say their condition has worsened in the last 14 months. This trend is also set to continue, with a quarter (26%) of young people in the North East saying they feel very anxious about the return to normal once lockdown restrictions lift.

Dr Dawn Harper, practicing NHS GP, TV presenter and member of the Hidden Strength Advisory Board: “Working as an NHS GP, I have seen a worrying increase in the number of young people suffering with mental health issues in recent years. The effect of the pandemic has sadly exacerbated the problem, so I was delighted to join the team at Hidden Strength to help combat the issue with such an innovative solution.

“The Hidden Strength app is a unique ‘one stop shop’ for mental health and wellbeing for teenagers and young adults, allowing them to access reliable support where and when they need it, in a safe and secure way.”

The app will fill a gap in the provision of mental health services for young people who say their needs aren’t fulfilled by options currently available. According to Hidden Strength’s research, 39% of young people with mental ill-health in the East Midlands would like to be able to access mental health support 24/7, with over a third (37%) saying they would like this to be anonymous and an equal number (34%) preferring to access support digitally via an app or website.

John Cameron OBE, former Director of Childline and member of the Hidden Strength Advisory Board: “In a world in which children have greater familiarity with online services, engaging with friends online, and at risk of being exposed to harmful material, the importance of utilising children’s preferred methods of contact and providing a child-focused, accessible, supporting digital platform cannot be underestimated.

“The uniqueness of the Hidden Strength app is an illustration of a significant evolutionary jump in the provision of support for children and young people online. To receive support and guidance from peers as well as therapists via the app, when they need it, will be impactful for children and young people who are suffering distress and harm, as they will be provided much-needed support which consequently, will help them develop skills to lead more confident and fulfilling lives.”

Linsey Lunny, Founder and CEO, Hidden Strength: “As a mother of two children entering their teen years and reflecting on my own mental health experiences in my youth, I was conscious that now, more than ever, adolescents need a reliable source of information and support. The global pandemic has seen them face insurmountable mental health challenges, yet identifying trustworthy resources online can be like finding a needle in a haystack and professional support can come with long waiting lists, high fees and often doesn’t cater to the way young people live and behave.

“Hidden Strength will transform the mental health provision for young people. As a safe, free-to-use platform in an environment that is familiar and appealing to young people, it will ensure they get the advice, guidance and support that they need at any time of day – both peer-to-peer, and in the form of fully qualified, on-demand therapists.”

App Features:

Sign Up & Connecting:

Hidden Strength has a strictly enforced age restriction. Only those aged 13-24 can sign up via a secure identity verification process.

Hidden Strength is private by default. When users join the platform, they choose a username to identify them on the platform so their real-name is never visible to other users if they wish. By default, nothing is shared publicly and no one else on the platform can see them. They can optionally choose friends to connect with, but they must know their mobile number in order to invite them to connect with them on the platform.

The Hidden Strength app is available now on iOS and Android. Users can register their place on the waiting list before the app’s features become fully accessible in June.

My Journal:

Users can record their thoughts in a private journal and respond to prompts which encourage them to record their feelings in the moment. These journal entries are monitored by AI technology to identify anyone who may benefit from a therapist’s intervention and prompt them to reach out for help.

Chat

Users can start chat conversations between their friends, either one-to-one or in groups. In the future, users will be able to request a Hidden Strength therapist join their conversation to offer advice. Conversations are monitored by AI technology for infringements of its strict community guidelines and to identify young people who may be at risk or would benefit from intervention.

Life Ring

Central to the app and unique to Hidden Strength, is the ability for young people to access direct support from therapists and councillors for free at any time of day or night. The Life Ring icon allows young people to reach out to chat with real, professional therapists, book in a session for another time, or be signposted to helpful resources on the app. Young people are guided through a short triage process in order to determine the best course of action and get them the help straight away.

Stories

Users can view a public story feed, curated by Hidden Strength’s own team and approved content creators, which might include mental health experts or celebrities and influencers. All content is pre-moderated and tagged by Hidden Strength’s content team to ensure young people are only exposed to age-appropriate topics relevant to the subject matter. This will also include community content that will allow young people to share their stories and advice via a moderated and approved workflow.

Resources

A library of self-help resources is available within the app. These resources include video guides about mental health topics, nutrition, wellbeing and exercise.

Rooms

In the future, the app will regularly host scheduled and pop-up rooms that allow young people to drop into public group sessions. These may be hosted by Hidden Strength therapists on specific mental health topics such as exam stress, or may be one-off sessions featuring inspirational guest speakers.

To find out more about Hidden Strength, visit hiddenstrength.com