Helping Hand

Helping Hand is a digital game focused on strengthening adolescents’ abilities to deal with mentally challenging situations, including anxiety, bullying and depression.

What is Helping Hand?

Through a series of life-like scenarios the game enables players to train on positive decision-making and strengthen their resolve to ask for help when they need it.

About Helping Hand

In Helping Hand the player helps a friend to master emotional challenges, such as fear of giving presentations, dealing with criticism, suicidal thoughts and bad memories.

Children playing helping hand game

The game can be used as pure self-help, or in blended learning in groups, or in full classrooms.

Helping Hand is based on an award-winning evidence-based method developed by Dr. Solfrid Raknes and collaborators, and associated with development of stronger social and emotional skills.

What our users and teachers think

A solution that matters

Tackling the global mental health crisis amongst young people

  • Annual losses in human capital from mental health conditions in children aged 0–19 is estimated to US$387.2 billion.
  • About half of Americans and Europeans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition some time in their life
  • Only a minority of young people have actual access to evidence based mental health support
  • Addressing mental health symptoms early is critically important for overall health.
  • Median government expenditure on mental health globally is a mere 2.1% of overall health expenditure
  • Lack of mental health professionals, cost and stigma are limiting factors for implementing psychosocial interventions
  • Interventions that can be implemented without the trained therapists, as self-help or by teachers/psychosocial staff after short training, can be upscaled to reach most young people.

Real Impact

99% Adolescents reported normal wellbeing 10 weeks on compared to 28% before playing the game
2000 Syrian teenagers helped in camps in Central Beqaa, Lebanon
15% Average improvement in well-being (WHO5) amongst Syrian refugees participating in pilot studies using Helping Hand
9% Decrease from 61% to 9% in the proportion of youth reporting need for support after playing the game
CASE STUDY

Attensi’s simulation expertise
helps children hurt by war

Game-playing techniques make a difference for young refugees.

Bjarne Johnson, CCO Norway and EU, was moved by the plight of the child refugees from Syria’s civil war he saw on the news.

He knew that simulation therapy has been used to offer psychological first aid to trauma victims. He knew that Attensi had lots to offer in the field.

It sparked a collaboration with child psychologist Dr Solfrid Raknes, the Norwegian Government, publisher Gyldenal and aid workers to develop the Helping Hand app…

99%

adolescents reported normal wellbeing 10 weeks on compared to 28% before playing the game

2000

Syrian teenagers helped in camps in Central Beqaa, Lebanon

Accreditations & Awards

The logo of World Economic Forum, WEF. White background
Winner of the World Economic Forum Youth Mental Health Challenge in 2022
The logo of World Economic Forum, WEF. White background
Top 10 Tech for Good 
initiative by World Economic
Forum in 2022
Logo of Helsedirektoratet, Norwegian Directorate of Health
Approved and bought by the Norwegian Directorate of
Health in 2020

Developed in Partnership

Dr. Solfrid Raknes and Attensi

Profile picture of Solfrid Raknes

Dr. Solfrid Raknes

Norwegian Clinical psychologist, researcher & program developer

  • Innovator behind a prize winning cognitive behavioral based psychosocial material widely used in school health services and schools (Helping Hand, Psychological First Aid, Vaag).
  • Implementation specialist involved in a wide spectrum of humanitarian and research projects in Europe, US, and Lebanon.
  • Her programs are translated into 8 languages and used across cultural and economic divides in many countries, and implemented to 800 000 children in Norway and extensively in Lebanon
  • Experienced psychologist, and supervisor.
  • Norwegian PhD; 4 years in Lebanon
The Attensi logo with letters and dark blue background

Attensi

Company specialized in gamified training simulations

  • Norwegian company established in 2013 delivering groundbreaking learning tools and technology
  • Combines advanced 3D modelling with deep insight into human behavior and psychology, training people in authentic situations that involve human interaction.
  • Attensi’s goal is to enable people to unleash their full potential of by creating world-leading training simulations.
  • Attensi’s solutions enable simulation of any kind of human interaction, whether it be dialogues, situations and use of machines and systems in a cost-effective and scalable way.
  • Attensi currently has 200 employees and serves more than 120 customers globally
CASE STUDY

Attensi offers helping hand to
Ukraine’s child refugees

This digital game gives troubled youngsters a way to deal with trauma.

Attensi is reaching out a helping hand to child victims of the war in Ukraine.

We are extending a project which has already successfully supported youngsters hurt and displaced by Syria’s civil war to victims of the conflict in Eastern Europe.

Helping Hand is a digital role-playing game, similar to those we create for businesses to train their teams around the world. It takes players through a series of life-like scenarios in a computer game-style setting and offers them a range of responses to choose from.

The game is designed to reinforce positive decision-making and to strengthen adolescents’ resolve to ask for help when they need it…

STUDY

A Helping Hand for Ukraine

Dr. Solfrid Raknes, has also conducted a study on the use of Helping Hand in Ukraine. The results highlight how the Helping Hand solution can significantly reduce anxiety and depression among youth affected by war.

Building peace is essential for mental health, and adolescents in war zones urgently need culturally adapted, evidence-based psychosocial support.

Available in:

Norwegian

English

French

Ukrainian

arabic language flag

Arabic

References: Helping Hand

The Helping Hand game is based on analog cognitive self-help resources, including “Psykologisk førstehjelp” and “Vaag,” created by Dr. Solfrid Raknes. Below is an overview of studies published on the impact of these materials. Studies focusing on the digital game are marked with an asterisk (*).

    1. Raknes S, Chorna T (2024)*. The Helping Hand in Ukraine: feasibility and potential impact. Pilot Feasibility Stud 10, 96. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40814-024-01520-5
    2. Wergeland GJH, Haaland ÅT, Fjermestad KW, Öst LG, Gjestad R, Bjaastad JF, Hoffart A, Husabo E, Raknes S, Haugland BSM (2023). Predictors of school-based cognitive behavior therapy outcome for youth with anxiety. Behaviour research and therapy, 169, 104400. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2023.104400
    3. Townsend D, Raknes S, Hammoud M (2022)*. Psychosocial support for Syrian refugee youth: Comparing delivery modes of a digital mental health game. In S. Moeschberger & L. Miller-Graff (Eds), Psychological Research on Violence Against Children: Towards Building Cultures of Peace, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p. 272 – 298.
    4. Schuler BR, Raknes, S (2022)*: Impact of digital mental health games with refugees. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 18, 83-94. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-07-2021-0060
    5. Al-Khayat AM (2021)*: Impact of the Happy Helping Hand app for displaced Syrian adolescents. Master’s thesis in International Education and Development Faculty of Education and International Studies Oslo Metropolitan University.
    6. Husabo E, Haugland BSM, McLeod BD, Baste V, Haaland ÅT, Bjaastad, JF, Hoffart A, Raknes S, Fjermestad KW, Rapee RM, Ogden T, Wergeland GJ (2021). Treatment Fidelity in Brief Versus Standard Length School Based Interventions for Youth with Anxiety. School Mental Health, 3, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-021-09458-2
    7. Raknes S (2020)*. The Happy Helping Hand used by Syrian displaced adolescents in Lebanon: a Pilot Study of Feasibility, Usefulness and Impact. White paper.
    8. Husabo E, Haugland BSM, Wergeland GJ, Maeland S (2020). Providers’ Experiences with Delivering School-Based Targeted Prevention for Adolescents with Anxiety Symptoms: A Qualitative Study. School Mental Health, 12(4):757-70.
    9. Haugland B, Håland Å…& Wergeland G. (2020): Efficacy of school-based cognitive behavioral interventions. Effectiveness of brief and standard school-based cognitive behavioral interventions for adolescents with anxiety: A randomized non-inferiority study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. https://www.jaacap.org/article/S0890-8567(20)30001-0/fulltext
    10. Haugland, Raknes, Haaland, Wergeland, Bjaastad, Baste, Himle, Rapee, & Hoffart, A (2017). School-based cognitive behavioral interventions for anxious youth: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 18:100. doi:10.1186/s13063-017-1831-9
    11. Rasmussen LMP, Neumer SP (2020). Kunnskapsoppsummering av tiltaket Psykologisk førstehjelp (2. utg.) Ungsinn.no, 1:1. https://ungsinn.no/post_tiltak_arkiv/psykologisk-forstehjelp-2-utg/
    12. Raknes S, Marki Å, Leborg S, Næss J (2020). Jeg tør! Utprøving av et kort Psykologisk førstehjelps-basert kurs for engstelige skolebarn. Forebygging.no http://www.forebygging.no/Artikler/2020/Jeg-tor/
    13. Raknes S, Dyregrov K, Pallesen S, Hoffart A, Stormyren S, Haugland BSM (2017). A pilot study of a low threshold, low-intensity CBT intervention for traumatized adolescents. Scandinavian Psychologist. 4, e8. https://doi.org/10.15714/scandpsychol.4.e8