Department for Health

Introducing Blue Ice: a self-harm prevention app

Fri Dec 06 14:31:00 GMT 2013

Girl with phoneResearchers from the Department for Health in the University of Bath have developed a self-harm prevention app called ‘Blue Ice’ (‘Blue’ meaning depressed and ‘Ice’ being an acronym for In Case of Emergency). It has been designed specifically for use in a clinical setting by young self-harmers.

The app was developed by a small team, including Professor Paul Stallard, Lisa Austin from Bath R&D, and app developers Intohand, in response to feedback from mental health service users in Bath, who said they would find a self-harm prevention app helpful.

Professor Paul Stallard, who leads the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research Group in the Department for Health, and is the clinical lead on the ‘Blue Ice’ project, said "The app is a way for users to take ideas from clinical sessions back to their home, for use when they are alone."

Blue Ice gives users a mood check-in dashboard where they rate their mood; it then checks how they’re feeling. If users are not feeling good it takes them through to a set of mood-related clinical activities designed to help them feel better.

Once an activity has been completed it then asks the user to re-rate their mood; if their mood has improved then they can log off. However, if it hasn’t then it offers more questions about whether they feel like hurting themselves before offering further options depending on the level of risk it thinks they’re at.

The app has taken 12 months to design, researchers started by gathering literature on self-harm and using this to develop ideas for the apps features; they then held a focus group with young mental health service users to discuss feasibility and develop content.  

From this the Beta version of the app was developed, and is currently undergoing clinical testing.  If Blue Ice proves successful, the app will be used in conjunction with the mental health team’s clinical work, giving users support when they are alone and need to deal with their feelings.

For further information on the Blue Ice project please email Lisa Austin.