A game to treat anxiety disorders in children receives regulatory approval

A mobile game for paediatric anxiety in children has received regulatory approval from the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Lumi Nova’ is the first game-based digital therapy to treat anxiety disorders in children aged 7-12 years.

It aims to revolutionise mental health interventions for children helping them to overcome anxiety using an evidence-based therapeutic approach.

The intervention combines methodologically rigorous user-centred design and proven immersive therapy, the gold standard for treating anxiety, delivered through an engaging mobile game.

Following a small-scale pilot conducted in March 2020, Lumi Nova demonstrated the highest levels of safety and is a cost-effective way to treat the symptoms of anxiety in real-world settings.

With children back in schools and the negative psychological consequences of the COVID-19 crisis continuing to unravel, Lumi Nova provides an accessible and scalable intervention for anxiety for NHS Integrated Care Systems and Clinical Commissioning Groups, schools, and local authorities.

It is estimated that as many as 7 out of 10 children with an anxiety disorder in the UK did not have access to evidence-based treatment, before the onset of COVID-19.

Childhood anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias. Anxiety can have a huge impact on young people’s lives, which can include difficulties with school attendance, socialising, and participating in daily activities. Anxiety disorders are associated with substantial disability and longer-term mental health consequences.

The game has been funded by NHS England via the NHS Improvement’s SBRI Healthcare programme and developed in partnership with the Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY) Research Clinic at the University of Reading, and MindTech UK.

Dr Claire Hill, clinical psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at The University of Reading, said: “We must act urgently to mobilise evidence-based interventions to tackle anxiety in our most vulnerable children and young people at this extraordinary time of crisis and particularly now that schools have reopened.

“Untreated anxiety can lead to depression, self-harm, and other life-long consequences. Lumi Nova is an engaging game that has demonstrated safety and is an important exemplar as the first MHRA approved mobile game for paediatric anxiety that gamifies exposure – the key component of CBT, the gold standard for treating anxiety – and should be considered for implementation by schools, local authorities and in routine clinical care.”

Developed and created by BfB Labs, the innovative company combines scientific and clinical rigour with the ingenuity of emergent technology and games to challenge the status quo in mental health interventions for children.

BfB Labs has pioneered the development of video game-based digital intervention to improve emotional regulation and now anxiety in children. Authorised professionals can track detailed intervention progress analytics through BfB Labs’ hub – a secure online portal.

Manjul Rathee, CEO of BfB Labs, said: “At BfB Labs, we are committed to building future mental healthcare for children today with evidence-based interventions that are not only accessible and affordable but also treat conditions in an entirely new and engaging way.

“During this time of urgent need for digital mental health solutions that can respond to soaring demand, we are extremely proud to enable NHS Integrated Care Systems and Clinical Commissioning Groups, schools, and local authorities to provide Lumi Nova – a safe, flexible, and cost-effective solution.”

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