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Potential of using visual imagery to revolutionise measurement of emotional health
  1. Amy Mary Rose Herring1,
  2. Michael P Craven2,
  3. Faraz Mughal3,
  4. Mat Rawsthorne2,
  5. Kathie Rees4,
  6. Leanne Walker5,
  7. Miranda Wolpert6,7
  1. 1 Canterbury, UK
  2. 2 Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK
  3. 3 School of Primary, Community and Social Care, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, UK
  4. 4 Nottinghamshire, UK
  5. 5 London, UK
  6. 6 Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, Brain Sciences, University College London, London, UK
  7. 7 Mental Health Priority Area, Wellcome Trust, London, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Amy Mary Rose Herring, Canterbury, UK; amymaryroseherring{at}


Appropriate measurement of emotional health by all those working with children and young people is an increasing focus for professional practice. Most of the tools used for assessment or self-assessment of emotional health were designed in the mid-20th century using language and technology derived from pen and paper written texts. However, are they fit for purpose in an age of pervasive computing with increasingly rich audiovisual media devices being in the hands of young people? This thought piece explores how the increased use of visual imagery, especially forms that can be viewed or created on digital devices, might provide a way forward for more effective measuring of emotional health, including smiley faces, other emojis and other potential forms of visual imagery. The authors bring together perspectives from healthcare, counselling, youth advocacy, academic research, primary care and school-based mental health support to explore these issues.

  • measurement
  • child psychology
  • child psychiatry
  • adolescent health
  • psychology

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  • Funding FM is supported by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) In-Practice Fellowship. MPC and MR had additional support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council New Mind programme (grant numbers EP/N026977/1 and NMP R119823/FS/7). The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work.