Using technology to boost mental health of Gen-Ys
UNIVERSITY of Sydney researchers are harnessing advances in online technology to develop innovative programs improving mental health in young people.
Associate Professor Rafael Calvo, from the School of Electrical Engineering, and Professor Ian Hickie, of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, are collaborating with the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre to develop new online interventions to support young people's mental health.
The Young and Well CRC is an Australian-based, international research centre that unites young people with researchers, practitioners, innovators and policy-makers from more than 70 partner organisations.
Associate Professor Calvo said the researchers are exploring the role of technology in young people's lives, and how it can be used to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those aged 12 to 25.
"The research focuses on how digital technologies can be used for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders as well as for promoting psychological wellbeing," he said.
"This focus comes from the common understanding that digital technologies have made their way into all the aspects of our lives that, according to psychology, influence our wellbeing ... everything from social relationships and curiosity to engagement and learning.
"The potential of these technologies to be used to help those experiencing mental health problems has motivated researchers to investigate how internet technologies like email and social media platforms like Facebook could support those when they need it most, particularly young people."
The three-year project will build upon the Inspire Foundation's ReachOut.com initiative to conduct research that informs the development of a range of online interventions, including a Wellbeing Hub where young people can download tools and applications to improve their wellbeing, a semi-automated triage system, and an online clinic to provide direct support to young people experiencing a mental health difficulty.
These resources are mapped to the Australian school curriculum and will be offered at no cost to schools.