Prototyping a serious game intervention promoting mental health literacy in children and adolescents
Promoting mental health literacy (MHL) among children and adolescents has high priority nowadays. We understand MHL as broad concept, including the abilities to obtain and maintain positive mental health (MH), recognize symptoms of MH problems, seek help and to decrease stigma. This project aims to develop the prototype of a game-based intervention to improve MHL in 10–14-year-olds and to evaluate user experience and potential efficacy. Experts in mental health, social sciences, game development, artificial intelligence (AI) and a fantasy writer will collaboratively with representatives from the target group (“young co-researchers”) develop a smartphone-delivered narratively-based serious game. To foster adherence and intrinsic motivation, the user-avatar interaction will be embedded in a digital fantasy story that uses AI for personalization and to increase player engagement. The project consists of 3 phases: 1. needs assessment (systematic literature review, stakeholder survey), 2. game co-development (including usability tests) & technical implementation, 3. randomized-controlled pilot trial to evaluate user experience and potential efficacy of the prototype in 120 children receiving the intervention vs. a waitlist-control group (N=120) recruited from schools using quantitative and qualitative methods. We expect that this serious game will improve MHL of 10-14-year-olds while overcoming pitfalls of traditional psychoeducational digital interventions (e.g. low adherence).