Mobile game aims to help mental health of children during pandemic


A new mobile app designed to help improve mental health in children during the coronavirus pandemic has been released in the UK.

Kai’s Sanctuary uses exercises linked to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and applies them in a game setting to help young people manage their emotions and introduces them to mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

The free app, which has gone live on the Apple App Store and will launch on Android next month, is set in a futuristic sanctuary where apprentice healer Kai is learning how to take care of guardians – the creatures who are protectors of children in the virtual world.

Players can take part in yoga with a guru sloth and breathing exercises with other virtual creatures as a way to introduce them to the techniques.

The game, developed by child health start-up and games studio Brightlobe, was funded by the Government’s innovation agency Innovate UK.

Shivani Lamba, founder and chief executive of Brightlobe, said: “Prior to the first coronavirus lockdown in March, Brightlobe was piloting our game-based developmental assessment platform, which is due for release in 2021.

“Early data showed that children’s mental health was worsening, so we proposed a game-based solution to address this crisis. We thank Innovate UK for believing in the strength of our project, as our game is based firmly within published clinical research on the efficacy of mindfulness CBT.

“Kai’s Sanctuary will evolve over time, with new content updates. This beta rollout for Kai’s Sanctuary will see Brightlobe actively engage with its capped launch audience to ensure future iterations are fully optimised before a global rollout.

“We’ll also be supporting Kai’s Sanctuary with Brightlobe Village, an interactive community during Q4, which will help the Brightlobe team to improve the release based on community feedback.”

Brightlobe said it was also developing a game which would double as a developmental assessment platform, enabling parents and doctors to monitor conditions such as ADHD and autism.

That game will be set in the same universe as Kai’s Sanctuary, the studio confirmed.