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PROMOTING MENTAL HEALTH IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS BY USING THE RETHINK ONLINE THERAPEUTIC GAME: USING EMPIRICALLY TESTED PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTENTS

Autor: Oana A. David Roxana A. I. Cardoș Viorel Lupu
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Introduction: Mental health in youths is a serious problem, due to high prevalence of emotional disorders in children and adolescents (see Collishaw, Maughan, Natarajan, & Pickles, 2010). Although there are effective treatments, the access to them is limited by a number of barriers. Given that adoles- cents are major computer and technology gadget users, currently there is an increased interest to use online games, based on scientific evidence, for preven- tion and treatment of teenager’s emotional disorders. Methods: REThink project aims to overcome the accessibility barrier by designing, developing, and evaluating a therapeutic video game, accessible over the Internet, meant to be used primarily as a standalone application to promote emotional resilience in children and adolescents aged 10 to 16 years. An important development aspect of this project is that the psychological contents of the therapeutic game are tested for their suitability. This study aims to conduct focus groups with students (children and adolescents) and mental health professionals (clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists). Results: Psychological content was rated as very useful and implemented correctly. Specialists considered the game a useful way of transmitting psychological content, especially suitable for students of 10-14 years. Students highlighted the importance of the game dynamics, the use of animations instead of text, the importance of ‘first person’ perspective and attractive design. Conclusions: In conclusion, ba- sed on the participants’ answers, we can say that the game address the psychological needs of youth, being a very useful way of development of emotion regulation strategies. Obtained data by investigating the psychological content represent an important aspect of the development of the game REThink.

Correspondence to:
oanadavid@psychology.ro