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As 75% of disability due to mental disorders occurs before the age of 25 and young people are increasingly experiencing emotional distress, it is imperative that relevant services are available to young people, particularly the approximate 70% of young people who do not seek help from professional services. Information and communication technology (ICT) plays an integral role in the lives of young people and provides a unique opportunity to connect with young people and to engage them in issues pertaining to their mental health and wellbeing. The e-Health team works to contribute to the evidence base about effective strategies involving ICT for improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 14 to 25. The Internet, in particular, is viewed as a setting for mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention for this population.
Dr Jane Burns & Dr Lauren Durkin
BMRI and Inspire Foundation
BMRI collaborates with Inspire Foundation, a national, non-profit organisation that utilises technology (a medium highly preferred and used by young people) and youth involvement to deliver innovative programs that are relevant to young people. Inspire has two programs: (1) Reach Out, which provides information, resources and support for young people going through a tough time and (2) ActNow, which connects young people with opportunities to learn more about their world and take action on issues they care about. The programs target four protective known to positively impact mental health and wellbeing: reducing stigma and increasing help seeking and coping skills, social inclusion and civic engagement. In 2008, the two websites recorded 1.9 million unique visitors, indicating they are services that young people use.
Research and evaluation activities conducted in 2008 indicate that Reach Out has had an impact on help seeking behaviour with 59% of repeat visitors seeking help from a professional after visiting Reach Out. Reach Out also has an impact on mental health literacy (82% of young people reporting they learnt more about mental health issues and 77% understand other people’s experiences of these issues) and stigma (60% felt less worried about what other people think about the problems associated with mental health issues.
BMRI is also providing support to Inspire as they develop a website for health care professionals called Reach Out Pro, which is due to launch in 2009. Reach Out Pro will provide health care professionals with information about the role of ICT in the lives of young people and how they can use ICT in their work with young people to enhance engagement and contribute to improved treatment outcomes.
- Burns, J.M., Durkin, L.A., Nicholas, J. Reach Out! The Internet as a setting for mental health promotion. Éisteach: Journal of the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy 2008;8(1):13-19.
- Burns, J., Durkin, L.A., Nicholas, J. The mental health of young people in the United States: what role can the internet play in reducing stigma and promoting help seeking? Journal of Adolescent Health (accepted December 2008).
- Nicholas, J., Burns, J.M., Durkin, L.A. The importance of Internet technology and social branding in improving the wellbeing of young people. Journal of the Royal Society of Health Promotion (accepted July 2008).
Prof Kathy Griffiths
Director, Centre for Mental Health Research
College of Medicine and Health Science,
The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 0200
T +61 2 6125 9723
F +61 2 6125 0733
The internet is emerging as an important means of providing education and therapy to people with mental health problems.
E-hub II at the BMRI is now focussing on stepped care models of providing e-health interventions for generalised anxiety, and to determine whether there are significant difference in effectiveness of these interventions compared to the use of anti-depressant medications.
E-hub I at the Centre for Mental Health Research, ANU, has released a new site, Beacon, in 2009 which lists all evidence based e-health applications globally.
The E-couch site provides interventions for anxiety and depression, and has recently released targeted programs for divorce and bereavement. These streams offer education, advice and evidence-based interventions such as problem solving and cognitive-based therapy.
Access the e-hub self-help programs for mental health and wellbeing.
- Christensen H, Hickie IB. (2010) E-mental health: a new era in delivery of mental health services. Med J Aust, 192 (11): S2-S3.
- Christensen H, Murray K, Calear AL, Bennett K, Bennett A, Griffiths KM. (2010) Beacon: a web portal to high-quality mental health websites for use by health professionals and the public. Med J Aust, 192 (11): S40-S44.
- Christensen H, Hickie IB. (2010) Using e-health applications to deliver new mental health services. Med J Aust, 192 (11): S53-S56.
- Christensen H, Pallister E, Smale S, Hickie IB, Calear AL. (2010) Community-Based Prevention Programs for Anxiety and Depression in Youth: A Systematic Review. J Prim Prev. 2010 Jun;31(3):139-70.
- Christensen H, Guastella AJ, Mackinnon AJ, Griffiths KM, Eagleson C, Batterham PJ, Kalia K, Kenardy J, Bennett K, Hickie IB. (2010) Protocol for a randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of an online e-health application compared to attention placebo or sertraline in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder. Trials. 2010 Apr 30;11:48.
- Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Mackinnon AJ, Kalia K, Batterham PJ, Kenardy J, Eagleson C, Bennett K. (2010) Protocol for a randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of an online e health application for the prevention of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. BMC Psychiatry. 2010 Mar 21;10:25.
- Donker T, Griffiths KM, Cuijpers P, Christensen H. (2009) Psychoeducation for depression, anxiety and psychological distress: a meta-analysis. BMC Med. 2009 Dec 16;7:79.
- Costin DL, Mackinnon AJ, Griffiths KM, Batterham PJ, Bennett AJ, Bennett K, Christensen H. (2009) Health e-cards as a means of encouraging help seeking for depression among young adults: randomized controlled trial. J Med Internet Res. 2009 Oct 22;11(4):e42.
- Calear AL, Christensen H, Mackinnon A, Griffiths KM, O’Kearney R. (2009) The YouthMood Project: a cluster randomized controlled trial of an online cognitive behavioral program with adolescents. J Consult Clin Psychol, Dec;77(6):1021-32.
- Neil AL, Christensen H. (2009) Efficacy and effectiveness of school-based prevention and early intervention programs for anxiety. Clin Psychol Rev. 2009 Apr;29(3):208-15. Epub 2009 Jan 25.