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Digital counselling for teenageboys is blooming!

The collaboration between TUBA (Therapy and counselling for Youth of Alcohol abusers) and Centre for Digital Youth Care has resulted in a brand new counselling platform, which operates as a community. There are no anonymous counsellors, instead there are coaches, each with their own unique story. This has prompted Danish teenage boys to get involved, and already the project, sponsored by the Velux Foundation, is close to reaching its objective merely 6 months after launch.

By Karina Lange, communicator, CfDP

TUBA and Cyberhus each has their own counselling for vulnerable children and young people. Both organisations have a good connection with girls to whom their counselling platform unconsciously have appealed to the most. Therefore, they have been wanting to connect with teenage boys between the ages of 13-20, since only few representants of this group seek help with life’s difficult problems. This has now come to fruition via a new counselling platform called MitAssist (MyAssist).

Boys are ranked in a point system

The new platform is built on the concept of gamification where people give each other assists, and someone’s help to others is then ranked in a point system. Counsellor and coordinator, Niels-Christian Bilenberg from Centre for Digital Youth Care says, “the effect is reinforcing. Others may also be inspired by those ‘higher-ranked’ – then, they might increase their own rank. […] It’s of value to those who leave a reply. You receive recognition for the energy you put in, and that’s of value to some of our boys. They’d like a rank position on our site, when they invest their time.”

This is an example of a an active user on MitAssist. You can see username, image, age, and rank in the point system

This is an example of a an active user on MitAssist. You can see username, image, age, and rank in the point system.

Community and coaches with personality

On MitAssist, there’s also a mixed troop of counsellors. Not just professionals, e.g., psychologists, caretakers, teachers, and social workers. Rather, boys would like to talk to people who has got similar life experiences. Everyone, coaches and youth, have their own user profile on MitAssist, so everyone has an identity and their own unique story to share. Everyone unfolds their own personality, and as such, users get to know each other, and they may discover similarities with other people. This has created a platform where primarily young people help each other, which bonds them together in a community of tolerance and a helping hand. Counsellors are often present in the background, and only contributes if someone asks.

This, in particular, appeals to teenage boys who are both involved, active and very caring with each other. “It’s been a very positive experience, and not characterised by extremely short and precise answers that we actually anticipated,” explains Niels-Christian Bilenberg, and adds, “the quality is extremely high, and they contribute a lot of different angles.”

Platform with success, and bridge-building

Right now, there are 159 users, and the target goal was 200 users by completion of the project in November 2017. So, the project has enjoyed a successful start, and now the focus is on getting even more users involved and further develop MitAssist into a more user-involved platform, e.g., through polls. Furthermore, the collaboration with municipalities must be increased. Municipalities may greatly benefit from the insight that MitAssist generates of young people in the local community, and in time, municipalities will also be able to use the counselling platform actively in their own communication and guidance. Centre for Digital Youth Care has a vision of building a bridge between NGO and municipalities, so that vulnerable young people may receive the right counselling and help in time, and the MitAssist project supports this vision.

Facts about MitAssist

MitAssist is a new counselling platform whose purpose is to increase the contact with teenage boys between the ages of 13-20. Cyberhus, as well as TUBA, have had minimal contact with this group of young people, since the more traditional platforms have not appealed to them as much. MitAssist is built on the concept of gamification which a lot of boys can relate to, and a more personal counselling has created a community in which boys manage to support each other.

The entire project is sponsored by the VELUX FOUNDATION by 4,5 mio. DKK, and runs for more than 2 years. Next, the goal is that MitAssist creates such great value to both teenage boys and municipalities, that the new platform may continue.

Fore more information on mitassist.dk, please contact concept developer Jonas Sindal Birk.

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