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New autism and anxiety app launched

Researchers and clinicians from King’s College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust have worked with UK charity Autistica to launch Molehill Mountain – an app designed to help autistic people with anxiety.

Molehill_mountainAvailable on the Apple App Store, Molehill Mountain is the first evidence-led smartphone app aiming to help autistic adults understand and self-manage their own anxiety. Molehill Mountain, funded by Maudsley Charity, will launch as part of a digital learning package on anxiety and autism which includes an email course and supporting web content. Research studies show that 40-50% of autistic people suffer with anxiety disorders – vastly higher rates than in non-autistic people. Helping people understand the causes of anxiety and the reasons for their symptoms is key to managing it better.

Molehill Mountain gets users to track their worries and how they’re feeling through a quick daily check-in. The app is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) approaches adapted for autistic people. It builds on the latest research into anxiety in autism and puts these techniques into the hands of autistic adults across the UK.

Despite high potential and interest for clinical mental health apps, research suggests that many fail because of low engagement levels. Users report that these apps are often unhelpful, don’t address their problems or feel insecure or untrustworthy. Autistica and King’s College London worked closely with autistic people and developers to ensure that Molehill Mountain is easy to use, engaging, relevant and secure.

Professor Emily Simonoff from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, worked on the anxiety research that formed the basis of the app:

We based the content of Molehill Mountain on adapted CBT principles, as there is good evidence that CBT can help to reduce anxiety symptoms in people with autism. It is not clear yet how effective Molehill Mountain will be for helping people to manage their anxiety, but we will be following a group of users to see how they get on.

The King’s Health Partners Behavioural and Developmental Psychiatry Clinical Academic Group is a European leader in research and services for people with neurodevelopmental disorders affecting social behaviour, and/or offending.