The study, led by the University of Bristol and supported by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute , will work with key stakeholders, including health and social care practitioners, to explore questions around how young people’s use of digital technology could benefit mental health consultations and improve the delivery of care and manage risk.
Technology can be used to deliver therapeutic interventions or to interface with services to provide additional means of building relationships with and supporting service users. Equally, heavy technology use amongst young people has been linked to poor mental health outcomes and may pose specific risks for those already experiencing difficulties such as self-harm, suicidal ideation or eating disorders. There has been some suggestion that such risks could be considered during mental health consultations.
Dr Lucy Biddle , Senior Lecturer in Medical Sociology in the Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences , who is leading the project, said: "Our study will pave the way for a substantial programme of research focused on the relevance of adolescents’’ digital technology use to consultations about mental health. We will explore both opportunities and harms posed by digital technology use and if addressing these in consultations can help clinicians to manage patient risk.
"Specifically, we will pose questions around whether young people’s technology use can be drawn upon to enrich face-to-face consultations, used as a tool to make these work better and more efficiently; and whether clinicians have a role to play in safeguarding against harmful use."
The objectives of the project are:
Undertake consultation with all key stakeholders to determine how young people’s digital technology use is currently drawn upon, or responded to, during clinical encounters focused on mental health in primary and secondary health care in England; and the perceived relevance of this to addressing patient risk.
Collect pilot data for two innovative projects exploring opportunities to: i) use information from young people’s digital engagements to enrich consultations; and ii) identify risk and safeguard against harmful technology use.
Build emerging collaborative relationships with digital mental health providers, academic primary health care, methodologists, and international experts in adolescent mental health, so that these may develop our future programme of work.
Use innovative practice to engage with young people, sustain their interest, and enable them to work with a collaborative research community.
Establish and sustain a ’stakeholder hub’ that will prioritise and co-create next steps for research and help improve implementation and dissemination.
To recognise the time spent taking part, participants will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win a £50 voucher.
To find out more about the study and how to take part, visit SurveyMonkey at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZFFKQ37