FAQs

What is Combined Minds?

Combined Minds is a free app to help families and friends support a young person who has certain mental ill-health conditions. It helps them find ways to provide the right environment to help the young person affect their own change. This approach also helps families and friends search for their own strengths, creating a solid connection and supportive network.

Who is Combined Minds for?

Combined Minds is intended to support young people aged 11 and over. It provides parents/carers and friends with ways to identify the strengths of a young person and offers suggestions on areas of focus. It is not a diagnostic tool or a treatment approach and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a mental health professional.

 

Combined Minds is for family and friends of teenagers who have a diagnosed mental health condition but can also be used for other age groups and for those who may show symptoms without formal diagnosis.

How does Combined Minds work?

Combined Minds uses a ‘Strengths-Based’ approach which has been shown to be effective in recovery. This approach moves away from the ‘deficits’ that individuals with mental health difficulties might be said to show or experience and instead focuses on resourcefulness and resilience.

 

The app provides activities that can be carried out to support different mental health conditions and includes helpful guidance to promote change. The app allows you to record what has worked so that it acts as a prompt at times of need. It also signposts to helpful services and provides support for families and friends themselves.

 

A Strengths-Based approach is derived and adapted from best practice in social care and is based on The Care Act 2014 which requires local authorities to ‘consider the person’s own strengths and capabilities, and what support might be available from their wider support network or within the community to help’ In order to do this the assessor ‘should lead to an approach that looks at a person’s life holistically, considering their needs in the context of their skills, ambitions, and priorities’.

What were the aims of developing Combined Minds?

Combined Minds was developed to offer ideas based on a Strengths-Based Model to:

  1. Provide parents and carers with strategies, activity tips, encouragement, clinically accurate information on different mental ill-health conditions and signposting to targeted support for a variety of mental ill-health conditions often noted in young people.
  2. Provide friends of young people experiencing a mental ill-health condition with strategies and signposting of what they can do, together with ways to support themselves.
  3. Develop a shared safety plan with a distressed young person so that everyone knew what to do and could access help quickly and effectively.
What evidence is there that Combined Minds works?

Latest Combined Minds analytics data (up until the end of December 2020) tells us:

 

There have been 24,400 downloads of the app to date by parents, carers and friends.

Approximately 45% of young people being supported were also receiving care for a mental ill-health issue.

Around 79% of the individuals who used Combined Minds reported that using this app helped them in the moment.

The most used section was that for Anxiety followed by Depression.

How do I talk to my son/daughter/friend about supporting them by using Combined Minds?

Set up some quiet, one to one time to have a conversation with the young person and share any concerns. Discuss how the app helps with identifying strengths and how they may be used to challenge difficulties. Discuss what activity the young person feels the most comfortable to start with and also how they would like you to be involved.  Agree on when you might talk again to find out progress. Make sure you notice the positive change and offer support if they feel stuck.

 

stem4 has lots of resources available for parents/carers/friends as well as young people available on their Resources page.

How should I keep the information I add to the Combined Minds app secure on my device?

We advise that you keep your information secure by setting a passcode or touch access on your device to prevent unauthorised access. The app content is not suitable for those under the age of 11.

How should I use the activities on Combined Minds?

Combined Minds provides a range of different activities since we understand that everyone is different and may respond better to some activities rather than others. We suggest the choice of activity is collaboratively decided with the young person concerned if at all possible. Follow the guidelines on how to choose the strengths that best support carrying out the activity and focus on how to support the young person to action this, one step at a time. Avoid trying too many activities at the same time.

How often should I use Combined Minds?

How often you use the app is very individual. Use it to set up the steps to approaching an activity and to monitor progress. If you find you are checking the app very often, checking with your parents/carer/friend about the activities very regularly or feel uncomfortable without it, have a break. Listen also to others. If they tell you that you are using it too much, have a break from the app.

How can I record which activities were most helpful?

Once you have added activities you would like to try to My Activities these can be reviewed by clicking the arrow next to the activity and selecting Mark as Tried. The activity can be rated as helping or not and comments added. These will then appear on the ‘View activities I’ve tried’ screen with a colour coded arrow (green for helpful; amber for helped a little; and red for unhelpful). You can choose to show or hide those activities recorded as not helping. This will allow you to quickly identify your most helpful activities.

How do I reset the activities in Combined Minds?

Activity data can be reset in the App Settings. This will reset all the activity data (activities to try and activities tried) as well as all activity feedback information. Please note that once activity data is reset, this action cannot be undone and all current activity data will be deleted.

Can I share the Safety Plan in the app with another parent/teacher/friend?

User accounts are not created in Combined Minds so there is no way to share or connect the app content with anybody else. We would advise you to screenshot any data you would like to share or write it down. We value your privacy and offering a small digital footprint but sadly it comes with a small price in terms of sharing and recovery of lost data.

Can I keep using the same activities?

Using activities that work can be helpful in making change. However, always check with the young person if they find re-using the activity helpful in order not to over-use them, thereby losing their impact.

Should I enforce an activity if I think it’s important?

Combined Minds should be used collaboratively. Enforcing an activity may not engage a person in making a change. The first step is always to carry out a strength finding activity and then discuss how each strength can help make a change to the activity you might suggest would be a good one to choose. Provide a reason why you think the activity will help but always get agreement from the young person about starting it.

What if my parent/carer wants to delete the app but I want to keep my useful activities/safety plan information?

User accounts are not created in Combined Minds so there is no way to share or connect the app content with anybody else. We would advise you to screenshot any data you would like to share or write it down. You could also download the Combined Minds app onto your own device if you have one.

How are users involved in your app?

We worked co-collaboratively with a small group of parents and young people to develop Combined Minds. This work explored desired outputs, reviewed tasks and wording, user journeys, visual concepts, security/privacy, user experience, and tone of voice.

 

User feedback requested clinically accurate and reassuring information on conditions and resources, practical strategies, ways to support self, immediate support framework and anonymity in terms of not collating identifiable data.

 

We have recently carried out a small pilot evaluation with a group of parents to review further needs subsequent to the pandemic.

 

We welcome user feedback which can be emailed to combinedminds@stem4.org.uk.

What design standards were followed?

NHS Digital DCB0129 standards.

 

This standard is based on a number of quality management principles including a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement.

 

Also our app developers:

  • Design with Users Needs
  • Design with Data
  • Iteration – New updates depending on things that have (or haven’t) worked or new functionality.

 

We also do strive to be as broadly accessible as possible through the use of industry best practices. For example, contrast colours for those with sight issues, using a font that’s clear to read etc.

How do we ensure that Combined Minds is clinically safe to use?

stem4 has put a number of measures in place to ensure that our apps are clinically safe to use.

 

The app has been developed by a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and validated by the group it is for. All our apps comply with the clinical safety standard DCB0129. Developed by the NHS, this standard is designed to help manufacturers of health IT software evidence the clinical safety of their products.

 

stem4 has a Clinical Risk Management Plan. For every app, we undertake a Clinical Safety Review with clinical professionals and produce a Clinical Safety Case Report and Hazard Log. The clinical risk is monitored and laid out in the Hazard Log. A flow chart of hazard mitigation and response is available which outlines how issues will be addressed together with target response times. 

 

Our target response time for urgent issues is 24 hours, for high priority issues 72 hours, medium priority 7 working days and low priority 14 working days.

 

Our Clinical Safety Officer is Dr Nihara Krause.

 

stem4 consistently monitors user feedback via emails, social media and reviews on the App Store/Google Play. Combined Minds is reviewed on a quarterly basis during which app efficacy, including the efficacy of the activities, is reviewed, and the app updated as necessary to ensure it is clinically valid.

How often do you review/update the app?

Combined Minds is reviewed every three months and updated as required.

What data do we collect and what do we do with it?

Combined Minds is an app that can be used on iOS and Android devices. The content is downloaded the first time the user opens the app and then cached. It can still be viewed and used offline.

 

Combined Minds has been designed with young people to ensure data and device memory/data use in their preferred device (smartphone) is not compromised.

 

Combined Minds does not collect personally identifiable data and you do not need to create an account to use our apps. No cookies are used. IP addresses are not captured. The app is standalone and does not connect to any other apps or devices or interact with existing enterprise systems.

 

We do ask some optional questions. This information is only used for research purposes and is completely anonymous. Anonymised data on whether activities helped is collected to ensure that we can monitor the effectiveness of the app and individual activities.

 

In order to evidence the effectiveness of the app, the following data will be made available:

  • Number of downloads and number of users (both iOS and Android)
  • Data submitted on installation of the app (optional) including:
  • Gender, Age Range, Location, Ethnicity, whether they have sought professional treatment
  • Aggregated data on user activity and its effectiveness
  • Analytics on user journeys

 

All optional question and activity feedback data collected via the app is aggregated and cannot be tracked to each user/device. However, the security of this data is still important to us and as such, we will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that the data is treated securely. The transfer of data is encrypted over a secure connection (SSL).

 

App data is stored using Amazon Web Services (AWS) which has certification for compliance with ISO 27001:2013 – https://d1.awsstatic.com/certifications/iso_27001_global_certification.pdf.

This data is retained for no longer than is necessary and destroyed by 5 years after expiration.

 

stem4 is not required to register with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) as no personal information is being processed. stem4 is compliant with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. stem4’s nominated Data Protection Officer (DPO) is Yvette Nieslony and can be contacted at dpo@stem4.org.uk.

 

You can read our full Privacy Policy here.

What happens to my data in the app if I change device or delete the app?

stem4 apps do not create user accounts. This was based on user research, with young people telling us they valued privacy. This does mean that if you delete the app or change your device, that any app data will be lost.

How do I report an issue with the app?

To report an issue with the app please email combinedminds@stem4.org.uk providing as many details about the issue as you can. stem4 endeavours to respond to you according to our target response times. We assess and record any clinical risk. We review the app quarterly and make updates where necessary.

 

We will resolve major bugs that prevent the intended app functionality from working for devices and operating systems supported.

Where can I get further help?

Please note that Combined Minds provides suggestions to support a young person’s mental health but is not a substitute for treatment. Please support the young person to contact their GP or inform a responsible adult. If you are a parent/carer please seek the support of your GP.

 

1 in 4 people may suffer from impact on their mental health. If you feel that your own mental health is affected, please follow some of the instructions yourself and contact the signposts in the app or a health professional such as your GP.

 

stem4 does not offer a counselling service. For any concerns please contact a GP and also the signposts in the app. In an emergency please contact 111 or 999.

Endorsements for Combined Minds

“An educative app that empowers families and friends who want to support young people with common mental health difficulties but do not always know how – offers easy-to-implement guidance that focuses on building upon the young person’s strengths, whilst also providing important suggestions for how families and friends can look after themselves in the process.”

Dr Sophie Andrews, Clinical Psychologist

 

Combined Minds is ORCHA approved with a rating of 81% (iOS) and 81% (Android).

FAQ v2 10/03/21

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