Supporting Mental Health in Young People: Integrated Methodology for clinical decisions and evidence-based interventions

HiSS - SMILE logo

SMILE (Supporting Mental Health in Young People: Integrated Methodology for cLinical dEcisions and evidence-based interventions) is an EU Horizon funded project. It aims to develop digital mental health intervention targeting psychological distress among young people (from 10 to 24 years) who are at risk of developing clinical symptoms of anxiety or depression. SMILE is conducted by an international consortium of academic, clinical and technical partners across Scotland, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia, Cyprus, Spain, Romania and Poland. 

A substantial portion - approximately 70% - of mental health problems are established before the age of 24. Once developed, these mental illnesses can have lasting, detrimental effects on the persons’ whole life. This makes the mental health of young people a major public health challenge that requires our attention and action, especially in the form of preventative interventions.  

Through a series of focus groups and coproduction workshops with young people, parents, school staff and clinicians, SMILE will develop a digital game-based intervention to increase young peoples’ resilience against day-to-day stressors. Once completed, the game will be trialled in 7 different European countries. The game will use a range of tasks to challenge young people’s negative beliefs. While playing, young people’s stress responses will be measured using digital biomarkers (physiological responses, collected digitally) and ecological momentary assessment (data collected in real-time). These methods enable the game to be tailored to each individual player’s needs. They also enable researchers to collect naturalistic data, which it is hoped will enable clinicians to make relevant treatment decisions. 

Overall, the SMILE digital preventative intervention has the potential to provide young people with accessible mental health support which is relevant and responsive to their needs and expectations. 

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No°101080923.