Finalist category: Digital Health Award
Digital Health Award, Finalist, 2018
A mobile grief therapy app that creates a safe, virtual world
Apart of Me is a safe, virtual world helping young people cope with grief: a mobile application that incorporates grief therapy interventions in an immersive and effective way, developed by Bounce Works.
In the UK alone, 41,000 children are bereaved each year. Too often children are left to find their own way through grief and, without support, can become isolated from their peers and vulnerable to emotional difficulties and mental health problems later in life. The statistics are shocking; 25% of under 20s who commit suicide have experienced childhood bereavement. 41% youth offenders have experienced childhood bereavement, compared to 4% of general population. Counselling is not appropriate for all kids. And grief doesn’t wait for 1 hour slots each week.
Apart of Me is the world’s first virtual space designed to help young people process the difficult challenges surrounding the death of a loved on. It has been designed in collaboration with the young people and families it aims to serve and with professionals in the field.
It is a digital platform that allows grieving kids to access the support they need, when they need it. The ambition is to provide the means by which kids find resilience through their grief, turning their nightmare into a source of hope and wisdom.
The app uses Unity, a cross-platform game development framework, to create an immersive three dimensional world in which users can access digital versions of proven techniques from the world of grief counselling.
The bereaved young people Bounce Works work with consistently said they wanted a safe place that they could explore in their own time. So they created a mobile app based on a a peaceful island, with a series of interactions based on evidence-based grief therapies.
The app aims to help young people by:
- Developing emotional literacy and wisdom around death
- Curating a secure digital memory box of a loved one
- Finding and connecting with other people in similar situations
- Providing tailored mindfulness meditations by the waterpool
- Encouraging important and difficult conversations with loved ones using in-app quests
Bounce Works used a co-design process, working closely with bereaved young people, parents, professionals, and experts in virtual reality and game design, to ensure Apart of Me is based on a deep understanding. They believe that creating immersive experiences requires immersive design techniques.
The initial prototype has been evaluated by around 100 young people and professionals with experience of bereavement. The application will contain curated stories shared by young people in similar situations from all around the world.
In addition to the app for young people Bounce Works is planning on producing a companion app for parents and professionals which will provide evidence-based advice and peer support for adults who are supporting a bereaved child or teenager.