BlueIce was developed by Professor Paul Stallard from the Department of Health and co-produced with young people who have lived experience of self-harm. The app offers a mood diary so the user can log their emotions and track how they’ve been feeling over time. It also offers a digital toolbox of evidence-based techniques designed to help the user find alternative strategies, instead of self-harm, to manage their distress. If their distress remains high, the user is taken through a series of prompts to some emergency contact numbers they can call or text.

BlueIce has already been found to be effective for adolescents, and the Department of Health and Student Services are currently running a study here at Bath to see if it can also be effective with university students. The first aim is to investigate the efficacy of BlueIce by adding it to the usual treatment of students attending counselling provided by Student Services. This will be compared with a group of students who receive treatment as usual without BlueIce added. The second aim is to investigate university students’ experiences of using BlueIce to determine its acceptability in this population.

PhD student in the Department of Health, Bethany Cliffe who is running the study under Professor Stallard says: "It has been great working with the Mental Health and Wellbeing teams on this project, they’ve been really supportive in getting this study off the ground. The most important thing is the wellbeing of the students, so it’s a really nice opportunity to collaborate on something that will hopefully help to improve that.

It is hoped that the results of this study will find BlueIce to be an effective and safe option for students that can then be made available for any student to access free of charge and at any time. As self-harm is unfortunately still quite a taboo subject that can be difficult for the individual to discuss, the goal is to provide another option for students that they can access discretely and without necessarily having to present to professional services to receive.

Kat Humphreys, Mental Health Team Leader says: “Student Services are delighted to be collaborating with the Department of Health to offer BlueIce to university students for the first time. We are always looking for new innovations and ways of supporting our students with mental health needs, and this is a fantastic opportunity for students struggling with self-harm to be able to access an additional resource that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them.”

Professor Stallard adds: "Self-harm is unfortunately common in young adults and we are therefore very pleased to extend use of the BlueIce app to students at our University.”

The study will be running until around the end of the year.