Safety planning revolutionised with the Beyond Now app
BEYONDBLUE // MENTAL HEALTH // DEPRESSION // BEYOND NOW
beyondblue is an Australian leader in tackling mental health issues in the community. The organisation works every day to help those in need, as well as providing information and support for family and friends.
We at Two Bulls are no stranger to working with beyondblue. We had previously worked with them on The Check In App, giving people the opportunity to discuss their issues with friends in a more casual manner. When beyondblue asked us to be involved to help people experiencing suicidal thoughts, distress or crisis, we were keen to work on such a life-changing project.
Safety planning is a tool used by clinicians to support interventions with their suicidal clients. However, until recently there has been little formal structure to guide the process. Two Bulls helped beyondblue implement a safety planning tool based on the Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) developed by Professor Barbara Stanley and Professor Gregory Brown (2012).
Safety planning is a proven and effective tool to help people through times when they may be at risk. Previously information was physically written down, but was not necessarily on-hand when needed. Transferring written plans to a smartphone app solved the issue of accessibility and increased access to support in times of crisis. The Beyond Now app is accessible anywhere anytime.
The development of this project was the first time beyondblue had worked in an Agile software development process with Two Bulls. The process itself went through a few key stages.
Two Bulls, beyondblue and a number of key stakeholders sat down, and came up with a number of ideas about what was achievable and within budget. Some ideas were too hard to manage, some required too much time, but through communication key functionality was decided on, which resulted in the “safety plan” concept.
As the Two Bulls team worked on the app, community engagement quickly became a focus. Each time we made changes, or put in new text and writing, we collaborated with users. Wording was crucial. Choosing the right words ensures users don’t get into negative thought patterns.
The Agile process meant we could quickly take on board changes as they happened. Each time a new set of suggestions came in, they could be quickly implemented, then tested again to ensure they got the right results.
Trial and Delivery:
Once the key features were implemented, trials for the app were undertaken by Monash University School of Clinical Sciences at the Monash Health mental health services. With the app being clinically validated through post-trial measurement of suicide risk and resilience along with qualitative data on smartphone application functionality and utility, the final apps were released into the wild, confident that they had all the functions, and critically that they resonated well with their key users. Bringing forward positive memories and encouraging people to use an app like this in a time of need is vitally important, so we were proud to see the reaction of the community.
Beyond Now is now available for download free on the App Store, as well as the Google Play store.
View the beyondblue website for more information.