Children’s Resilience — How To Best Share The Burden Of Assessment?

It is entirely appropriate that in Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture, and Design 2016, Appa Scotland have come up with one of the most exciting and innovative products designed to tap into the minds of our young people and ensure they can maximise their full potential. This has implications well beyond Scotland’s borders. Think of the numerous issues that impact on a child’s development and resilience and whether he or she will speak about it e.g. exam stress, bullying, bereavement, substance abuse, child abuse, grooming etc

Appa Scotland was awarded a SMART Grant in March 2016 by Scottish Enterprise to develop our ground breaking mobile app, APPA (Adaptive Psychological Profile Application) to deal with this important issue. It is designed to help the Scottish Government’s objective of “Getting It Right For Every Child” (GIRFEC) and aims to digitally assess the resilience of secondary school age children this year. Appa Scotland’s aim is to take a small step towards a more resilient generation.

As any parent will know, their child will not always confide in them when they are troubled. Teachers will also attest to this. So, to prevent young people falling into a vacuum where they cannot access help and even talk about their issues, Appa Scotland has come up with a novel and creative solution, APPA. Instead of having to sit down with a parent or teacher, the young person can engage with an avatar through the mobile app. Our avatar, “Alex”, will engage the young person in a conversation rather than what may be considered an interrogation by an adult!

Why APPA?

1. Well, apart from putting young people at the heart of the solution, it takes away the responsibility from teachers to put the time into that initial assessment as well as removing the variability and subjective assessment depending which teacher is involved. In short, it provides a more accurate, objective assessment that the young person is more likely to actively engage in.

2. For parents, their child will be objectively assessed and they will have the opportunity to access this Resilience report based on the “SHANARRI” factors that highlight which aspects of the young person’s life is performing well or needs to improve: Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included.

3. For psychologists/therapists, the Resilience/Wellbeing SHANARRI report provides an accurate summary of the young person’s issues through the initial assessment carried out by APPA. They can then focus their energies on helping the young person through the relevant prognosis.

How does APPA work?

APPA is designed to engage children in a conversation to assess their strengths and identify the challenges they experience with the daily tasks of growing up. The more questions a child answers, the better APPA will know the child and the better APPA can tailor suggestions for how to build the child’s resilience.

While APPA’s questions explore many areas of children’s lives, the information is always kept confidential. The child must consent to sharing his or her answers with parents and any other adult who will access the results of the assessment.

At a time when it is difficult to enhance young people’s resilience, APPA provides a helpful tool that complements other psychological interventions. Crucially, APPA shifts the focus from psychopathology to how we can build children’s strengths. Increasing rates of anxiety among children, exposure to various problem behaviours have made improving children’s mental health very complicated. APPA is designed to help. It uses well-researched results from studies of resilience (Resilience Research Centre) and turns them into easy-to-use suggestions for children needing to deal with life’s stressors.

Five schools in Scotland will begin using this from May 2016 which is an exciting time for all concerned.