The Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families works to improve the lives of children and young adults through advocating and supporting strong mental health. For over 60 years they have placed children, young people, and their families at the heart of everything they do and they are committed to developing and delivering pioneering mental health care.

Anna Freud approached us with the brief to develop a website to be used by students aged 11-14 in alternative provisions schools that are showing signs of emotional well-being problems in the classroom. From this brief, ReZone was born.

ReZone is an iOS and Android app, designed to help students ‘ReZone’ if they experience anger, stress or anxiety and have shown disruptive behaviour in the classroom, ultimately helping them to return to mainstream learning more quickly. Over time, use of the app encourages students to manage their own emotional well-being more actively, and learn how to be more aware of themselves and their behaviour.

Based on a series of paper-based mentalisation and cognitive behaviour therapy techniques, the app was originally expected to take the form of a website, however the extensive UX process we undertook quickly identified that an app-based solution would be far more likely to succeed. The high-levels of technology aptitude prevalent within the age group, coupled with the highly interactive nature of the tools meant that an application could offer the best possible experience to users.

We took a responsive development approach to ensure that the app works across both iOS and Android, and also opens up possibilities for parents to use the tool at home within the same familiar interface.

ReZone’s tools include a ‘stress bucket’, designed to allow young people to view in a simple way how much pressure they might be under, where it is coming from, and how they can relieve stress by using positive coping mechanisms before it all becomes too much. The Chill Out area of the app takes young people through a series of breathing exercises designed to help them regain their composure and avoid making a situation escalate. Additional fun elements including mindfulness colouring and a happy faces game were built in to encourage young people to use the app, whilst still helping to achieve the overall aims of the system.

 

The app also contains a supporting feature for teachers, who can track the usage and progress of their students to make sure that the tool is being used effectively and that they are offering the support that the student needs.

We have found this an incredible rewarding project to be involved in, with many of us imagining how this could have helped ourselves, our friends, or our family if it had been available when we were back at school.

So far it has received great feedback from in-school testing and we’re looking forward to seeing this helping young people in the future.

“Create have been wonderful to work with, taking on our ideas to develop a visually dynamic and functional app that matched our specifications for the project’s audience and aims. From initial focus group feedback, young people found the app engaging; stating that it was different to what they had seen before with lots of choices to help de-stress and re-focus. ReZone is currently being piloted in schools and we hope to have results soon to be able to make the app publicly available.”

Evelyn Sharples

Research Assistant and Project Support Officer , Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families