Feasibility of a serious game coupled with a contact-based session led by lived experience workers for depression prevention in high-school students
Gijzen, M., Rasing, S., van den Boogaart, R., Rongen, W., van der Steen, T., Creemers, D., ... Smit, F.
Stigma and limited mental health literacy impede adolescents getting the help they need for depressive symptoms. A serious game coupled with a classroom session led by lived experience workers (LEWs) might help to overcome these barriers. The school-based Strong Teens and Resilient Minds (STORM) preventive program employed this strategy and offered a serious game, Moving Stories. The current study was carried out to assess inhibiting and promoting factors for scaling up Moving Stories once its effectiveness has been ascertained.
Moving Stories was offered in three steps: (1) introductory classroom session, (2) students playing the game for five days, (3) debriefing classroom session led by lived experience worker. Data was collected on the number of participating students, costs of offering Moving Stories, and was further based on the notes of the debriefing sessions to check if mental health first aid (MHFA) strategies were addressed.
Moving Stories was offered in seven high-schools. Coverage was moderate with 982 participating students out of 1880 (52%). Most participating students (83%) played the Moving Stories app three out of the five days. Qualitative data showed that the MHFAs were discussed in all debriefing sessions. Students showed great interest in lived experience workers’ stories and shared their own experiences with depression.
Bringing Moving Stories to scale in the high-school setting appears feasible, but will remain logistically somewhat challenging. Future implementation and scale-up of Moving Stories could benefit from improved selection and training of LEWs that played such an important role in grabbing the full attention of students and were able to launch frank discussions about depressive disorder and stigma in classrooms.