It was research that drove the need, but audience feedback that has steered the design and content of the Raising Healthy Minds app – a new, free digital tool to help Australian parents, carers and practitioners working with children to better support children’s emotional and social wellbeing. The app is a high-quality digital platform that connects parents and professionals with reliable information and advice on infant and child social, emotional wellbeing and behaviours. It is designed to be a responsive, intuitive tool that grows with the child and is tailored to their needs and circumstances.  


The Raising Healthy Minds app, released in September 2021, was created by a project team from the Raising Children Network– a not-for-profit organisation that produces a suite of digital parenting tools. The Raising Children Network’s flagship product is – a government-funded website that houses a trove of up-to-date, evidence-based, independent information about raising children and helping families thrive.  


The Raising Healthy Minds app, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, adapts Raising Children Network content, as well as developing bespoke content, to improve the mental health literacy of parents of children 0-12 years of age and empower them with knowledge to take appropriate action.   


Research Drove the Need


Studies showed that parents and carers needed help to become more literate in identifying mental health issues in children, as well as strategies to help their children when concerns – such as difficult behaviours – arose. The genesis of the app was a desire to better educate those caring for children about what is normal when it comes to the mental health of infants and children, and when they should seek additional support.  


Research conducted by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne found that while mental health struggles often begin in childhood, only around 35 per cent of parents were confident they could recognise signs that their child was experiencing mental health difficulties. It was this research that provided the impetus for the creation of the Raising Healthy Minds app, which aims to address the gap in parents’ and carers’ knowledge about mental health issues in children and provide guidance on how to help or where to seek outside assistance.  


The Raising Children Network project team collaborated with a consultative group made up of more than 100 parents, health professionals and other stakeholders to help develop the format of this new digital tool. 


Why an App?


The decision to offer the content through an app rather than a website or other digital tool came from the desire for the user experience to be responsive rather than passive. The app offers notifications with suggestions or tips tailored to the user according to the information they have provided – primarily the ages of their children. The Raising Healthy Minds app provides push notifications targeted to the age of the user’s child or children, as well their geographic location. Following the theory ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’, the creators designed the app to offer regular prompts, for example a suggestion for how a parent could talk to their pre-teen about anxiety or suggest a play idea for a toddler and how that particular activity could support development of a healthy mind.  


The panel of parents and stakeholders consulted during the app’s development phase also agreed an app, with succinct, easy-to-read and accessible information, would be the best way to deliver the content to a mass audience. To achieve this the app includes searchable topics, videos, written articles, links and contacts, all accessible when it best suits the user. 


Challenges and Solutions


One of the biggest challenges the app’s development team faced during its creation was the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruiting families to take part in the consultation process and conducting this consultation online meant changes to established processes for consultation.  


The development team was also challenged with the task of making sure the app was accessible for a mass audience – both in terms of content and technology. The team wanted the app to be simple enough to reach people with varying levels of digital literacy and the content written in language accessible to a diverse audience.  


There have been several iterations of the app to deal with bug fixes and improve functionality – the most recent improvement was to allow push notifications to lead directly to relevant articles within the app to help users wanting more information about that topic.   


Take up and Future Plans


In the short time since its launch, the Raising Healthy Minds app has been downloaded on just under 10,000 devices and has received more than 102,000 interactions. These interactions – specifically the search terms used by users – have helped guide the app development team on what content and features to focus on for updates to the app. 


The project team is continually building on the 30 topic areas available at the app’s launch. Initially most of the content was adapted from the evidence-based information on, but going forward more bespoke content is planned to be developed directly for the Raising Healthy Minds app to meet the needs of users.  


Another recent addition to the app’s functionality was the implementation of geographically-based information. The app’s ‘Get more support’ section is now tailored to the user’s location if they enter their postcode. Future plans for the app include expanding its library of audio visual material and adding to the written content.  


The free Raising Healthy Minds app is available for download from Google Play and App Store.


About the Raising Children Network


The Raising Children Network is an Australian Government-funded initiative delivering online resources and information to Australian parents, carers and professionals caring for children. It has been funded by successive Australian governments since 2006 to publish up-to-date, scientifically validated information about raising children from pregnancy-18 years. The website receives 150,000 visits per day (51 million page views in 2021) and its resources are used by health, education and community professionals working with children and families.