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New app launches to help tackle teen mental health

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A new Australian-made app specifically designed to tackle the unique stresses and motivational needs specific to teenagers has launched as part of World Mental Health Day (10 October).

With school refusal and anxiety in high schools on the rise, the NSW government is funding innovative strategies to support teens across the state.

Hey Lemonade, an evidence-based stress and motivation management company, have received a grant through the NSW Department of Education’s Student Wellbeing Innovation Fund to help teens.

Hey Lemonade aims to tackle smaller mental health issues before they become bigger. Through its pep talk app, it provides hundreds of bite-sized, evidence-based pep talks delivered by a range of well-known Australian voices to deal with everyday problems in a pragmatic way.

With the support of the Student Wellbeing Innovation Fund, Hey Lemonade have now developed a high school version of the app, Hey Lemonade High.

Teenagers are experiencing more anxiety and pressure to perform than previous generations. According to the 2022 Mission Australia Youth Survey, 55% of young people feel they need more mental health support.

This is particularly true for students who identify as female, non-binary, living with a disability or as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. With more than one million Australian teens aged 14-17 (91%) having a mobile phone, the Hey Lemonade High app offers a viable means to increase student interaction with wellness resources and intervention.

The app utilises humour and colloquial language to make the content more relevant to teens.

The evidence-based pep talks are designed to manage stress, increase confidence, build resilience and drive motivation.

The quality-assured program commences as a trial in year 9 and 10 cohorts of 15 NSW high schools.

Participating students will have access to the Hey Lemonade High app for free for the entirety of term 4, enabling them the independence and ease to attain reliable support in a private, self-managed format, better equipping teens to activate their internal resilience and navigate the stresses that are specific to their generation and life-stage. There are plans for a broader roll-out in 2024.

The Hey Lemonade pep talks have been developed by a team of leading psychologists, in close collaboration with award winning Australian writers. Talks utilise humour and colloquial language to make the content more relevant to teens. Pep talks include; Gee up for an exam, When you didn’t get the results you wanted, Just found out there is a group chat without me in it, Conflict with a teacher, Gee up for your P’s, Can’t stop scrolling, Supercharged morning high five, Death of a beloved pet, Feel left out because your friends have more money, Blushing and crushing – dealing with a crush, a Good night pep and more.

Hey Lemonade co-founders Elise McCann (left) and Lucy Durack.

Hey Lemonade was founded by Ms Lucy Durack and Ms Elise McCann in response to Australians’ increased stress levels during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022 Hey Lemonade pep talks were tested by the CSIRO with a peer reviewed study. It found listening to Hey Lemonade pep talks over a four-week period can improve mood, stress and ability to cope with general life hassles, including a significant increase in vitality and calmness. Despite the hundreds of wellbeing apps on the market, Hey Lemonade is one of the few apps that have been scientifically proven to work and is based in evidence.

Durack and McCann said they are thrilled that Hey Lemonade can now help teenagers.

“High school years present such an array of stresses and our research showed that while there are now school counsellors in most schools, many teens are hesitant to go and instead turn to their phones and the unfettered internet to deal with their problems. We are so glad to have a private, safe option that is scientifically backed, to offer them,” Durack said.

“We’ve had a wonderful reception in the first few weeks of onboarding with high levels of student engagement and many teens commenting the content is genuinely resonating with them,” McCann said.

“Our goal is to help teens become more resilient and confident in the face of daily struggles,” she said.

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