MeeTwo: A Safe App to Help Anxious Teenagers
Many teenagers find it very difficult to talk to parents, or even friends, about the stuff that really matters, but bottling up anxiety often makes things worse. The MeeTwo app helps teenagers to share problems and get advice from each other. The app is based on the latest psychological research, which shows that peer-to-peer support prevents teenage anxiety getting out of control, as long as it is properly guided and moderated.
MeeTwo looks and feels like social media, but it is actually a way of providing young people with an opportunity to explore and pursue safe support, independent of parents, teachers and friends. By encouraging teenagers to use their own experiences to support each other, MeeTwo creates an ever-expanding virtuous circle, where helping is designed to benefit both the helper and the helped.
The app’s users are teenagers aged 13-19 who seek support for problems such as family conflict, exam stress, mental health issues, eating disorders, toxic friendships, gender confusion or bereavement. Some are expressing their anxiety for the first time, others are already engaged with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) or school counsellors.
“I didn’t feel I could tell my friends about my panic attacks and I didn’t want to worry my parents,” one 15-year-old girl told MeeTwo. “But with MeeTwo, within a few hours of posting you get several replies from people who might say, ‘Yes, I have that same thing, here’s what I try.’ You get help with your problem, but you also get to help others by replying to their problems, which makes you feel better too.”
How does it work? The app is free to download, users remain anonymous and all personal information is screened out. Teenagers can express themselves in words and images and be completely honest. Every post and reply is screened before it goes live. There is no direct messaging, and posts are limited to 300 characters to keep things focussed and make it quick to use. Within the app, trained ‘super peers’ ensure that no one is ignored and everyone gets the support they need.
Behind the scenes, experts assess risk and direct more vulnerable teenagers to targeted support before their posts reach the app. MeeTwo also contains a directory of specialist support organisations such as Childline, Beat (eating disorders), Brook (sexual health) and Mermaids (gender diversity); in its next iteration it will also link to welldoing.org as a source of private therapy. Additional educational resources are developed in response to trending topics.
MeeTwo is a social enterprise developed by education technologist and engineer Dr Kerstyn Comley, and the psychologist and journalist Suzi Godson. The app was piloted with Year 10 pupils in three secondary schools and launched at the end of 2017. Features in The Times, The Guardian’s education section and Forbes have helped spread the word and the pair are on track to reach 20,000 users by the start of 2019.
MeeTwo is now endorsed by organisations in the education, charity and health sectors including Teach First and CAMHS (North London). It also has working relationships with both Young Minds and Childline. MeeTwo has already won five major awards and was voted one of the 100 most important innovations in education in the world by the prestigious HundrED organisation, funded by the Finnish Government.
Through partnership licences, MeeTwo is used by therapists, counsellors and youth service providers to augment their real-world service with safe digital support. For example the Aquarius Charity, which helps young people who have been affected by addiction and dependency, offers MeeTwo to young users who need additional help between face-to face counselling sessions.
You can hear teenagers talking about MeeTwo in this two-minute video
MeeTwo is available on both the App store and Google play.