Miller School to study the impact of digital mental health resources in Florida high school students – InventUM
The STEMSEL collaborative initiative includes mental health education for school leaders, accessing and exploring digital resources to support students’ social and emotional learning.
The Media and Innovation Lab (MIL) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine today announced a new effort to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of digital mental health care services for students, teachers, and the K-12 staff in four Florida school districts at a time when children’s mental health issues have reached emergency status, experts say. The centerpiece of the STEMSEL initiative includes a clinical evaluation of the Neolth digital mental health platform among a population of over 7,000 Florida students in grades 6-12.
The main objective of the STEMSEL clinical study is to evaluate whether Neolth, a preventive and self-guided mental health support technology with escalation of care, is effective in increasing social and emotional intelligence in school-aged children. In previous studies, Neolth demonstrated clinical reductions in stress, depression, anxiety, and stigma, as well as increased self-efficacy. The University will make the Neolth platform available to students at Florida schools in four districts, including South Walton Academy in Walton County, Palmetto Bay Academy in Miami-Dade County, Lakeland Institute of Learning in Polk County and the Florida Virtual School in Orange County.
In October 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association issued a joint statement classifying the pandemic-related decline in child and adolescent mental health as a national emergency. . More recently, the KIDS COUNT® 2022 data book, compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reported a 26% increase in the number of children suffering from anxiety or depression between 2016 and 2020, “this which represents 1.5 million additional children struggling to make it through the day. ”
The STEMSEL program is designed to increase understanding of and access to on-demand social-emotional learning (SEL) digital platforms by studying the impact of these new resources on children’s mental well-being and providing development and professional support. for teachers, administrators and school staff, and resources for parents and caregivers.
“A fundamental pillar of The MIL is to engage, serve and educate our local and global communities about health innovations, and empower them to co-create and consume new technologies,” said Azizi. Seixas, Ph.D., founding director of The MIL and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Miller School of Medicine. “Given the mental health crisis facing our children, it is essential that we explore ways to make effective mental health services more available and accessible to all. This program has the potential to change the paradigm of care delivery in favor of our most precious resource: our children.
Through The MIL’s partnership with Neolth, participating school districts will have free and open access to on-demand SEL activities and community provided through the Neolth app. Neolth program content is designed to help students build resilience through personalized relaxation techniques, SEL practices, and heightened emotional awareness. The app’s community module includes videos from clinicians educating students about mental health; vlogs of students discussing their own mental health, to break the stigma; and live-streamed community events to connect students across the country. Connecting with peers invites students to understand their shared experiences and encourages them to seek help rather than suffer in silence.
MIL researchers will carefully study the implementation of the program and conduct independent research to assess the impact of the program to establish new pathways to expand access to digital mental health tools as part of its service mission. and awareness.
“Dr. Seixas and his team have deep expertise in providing mental health support through the use of digital health tools. His work has focused on precision neuroscientific approaches for personalized behavioral interventions , which is fully aligned with the scientific foundations of Neolth,” said Katherine Grill Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Neolth. “Working with the University of Miami to implement and evaluate our digital solution will help us improve the usefulness and reach of our platform in Florida. The addition of the professional development component is fantastic, as education on best practices for student mental health and digital tools is badly needed post COVID.
As part of the STEMSEL initiative, MIL launched a complementary educational outreach program in schools across the state to increase awareness of students’ mental health needs and the use of digital tools in the schools. As part of this aspect of the program, MIL is hosting webinars with leaders from some of the leading digital mental health platforms, including Calm, Headspace, Moshi Kids, Neolth and Little Otter.
MIL researchers plan to add more schools and districts to this study throughout the 2022-23 school year. All schools will receive implementation support from the Miller School MIL team and Neolth.
Schools interested in learning more about this initiative should contact Khrystina Warstadt at Neolth, Khrystina@neolth.com.