Preventive Digital Mental Health for Children in Primary Schools: Acceptability and Feasibility Study

Sian M. Davies, Jenni Jardine, Kerry Gutridge, Zara Bernard, Stephen Park, Tom Dawson, Kathryn M. Abel, Pauline Whelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The incidence of mental health problems in children and adolescents in the United Kingdom has significantly increased in recent years, and more people are in contact with mental health services in Greater Manchester than in other parts of the country. Children and young people spend most of their time at school and with teachers. Therefore, schools and other educational settings may be ideal environments in which to identify those experiencing or those at the risk of developing psychological symptoms and provide timely support for children most at risk of mental health or related problems.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to test the feasibility of embedding a low-cost, scalable, and innovative digital mental health intervention in schools in the Greater Manchester area.

METHODS: Two components of a 6-week digital intervention were implemented in a primary school in Greater Manchester: Lexplore, a reading assessment using eye-tracking technology to assess reading ability and detect early atypicality, and Lincus, a digital support and well-being monitoring platform.

RESULTS: Of the 115 children approached, 34 (29.6%) consented and took part; of these 34 children, all 34 (100%) completed the baseline Lexplore assessment, and 30 (88%) completed the follow-up. In addition, most children were classified by Lincus as regular (≥1 per week) survey users. Overall, the teaching staff and children found both components of the digital intervention engaging, usable, feasible, and acceptable. Despite the widespread enthusiasm and recognition of the potential added value from staff, we met significant implementation barriers.

CONCLUSIONS: This study explored the acceptability and feasibility of a digital mental health intervention for schoolchildren. Further work is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the digital intervention and to understand whether the assessment of reading atypicality using Lexplore can identify those who require additional help and whether they can also be supported by Lincus. This study provides high-quality pilot data and highlights the potential benefits of implementing digital assessment and mental health support tools in a primary school setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30668
Pages (from-to)e30668
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2021


  • Acceptability
  • Child and adolescent mental health and well-being
  • Digital assessment and monitoring
  • Digital mental health
  • Feasibility
  • Prevention
  • Reading screening or ability
  • School-based mental health care


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