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How Telehealth Can Help Bridge Pediatric Mental Healthcare Gaps

Article Excerpt: The burgeoning mental health epidemic in America is widespread across age groups, but the youth have faced a particularly challenging time amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the youth mental health crisis reaches new heights, providers are increasingly turning to telehealth to help expand access to behavioral healthcare. In December, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, issued an advisory calling for a coordinated response to combat the crisis. “Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — and rates have increased over the past decade,” said Murthy in a press release. “The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating.”

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Article Source: mHealth Intelligence


Telephone and Web-Based Delivery of Healthy Eating and Active Living Interventions for Parents of Children Aged 2 to 6 Years: Mixed Methods Process Evaluation of the Time for Healthy Habits Translation Trial

Hammersley M, Wyse R, Jones R, Okely A, Wolfenden L, Eckermann S, Xu J, Green A, Stacey F, Yoong S, Jackson J, Innes-Hughes C, Li V, Rissel C. Telephone and Web-Based Delivery of Healthy Eating and Active Living Interventions for Parents of Children Aged 2 to 6 Years: Mixed Methods Process Evaluation of the Time for Healthy Habits Translation Trial. J Med Internet Res 2022;24(5):e35771 DOI: 10.2196/35771

Researchers conducted a mixed methods process evaluation of a translational trial targeting the dietary habits and movement behaviors of children with 3 partially randomized arms. The Time for Healthy Habits study recruited 458 total parents of children aged 2 to 6 years. The three arms were a telephone intervention, a web-based app intervention, and an active control (written education materials). At baseline, participants were asked to indicate their preferred intervention delivery method (telephone, web, written) or if they preferred to be randomized to condition. Participants received the assigned intervention for 12 weeks. Intervention acceptability and process evaluation were assessed at 3 months post baseline using a questionnaire developed by the researchers and qualitative interviews. Data on intervention fidelity and study attrition were also collected. Thirty participants completed the qualitative interviews, and 144 (31.4%) participants completed the postintervention follow-up. Most participants preferred the web-based delivery method at baseline. Results demonstrated high acceptability of the web-based and telephone interventions. Participants reported the healthy eating content to be the most useful component of the web-based modules and telephone calls. A significantly higher proportion of participants completed the telephone intervention compared to the web-based intervention. However, study attrition was higher in the telephone intervention arm. Overall, the process evaluation showed high acceptability of all interventions, but significantly more participants preferred the web-based intervention and were retained in the study relative to the other arms. This study highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of remotely delivered interventions and can inform directions for policy makers and practitioners.


Preventive Digital Mental Health for Children in Primary Schools: Acceptability and Feasibility Study

Davies SM, Jardine J, Gutridge K, Bernard Z, Park S, Dawson T, Abel KM, Whelan P. Preventive Digital Mental Health for Children in Primary Schools: Acceptability and Feasibility Study. JMIR Form Res 2021;5(12):e30668. doi: 10.2196/30668

A study tested the feasibility of integrating a low-cost, scalable, and innovative digital mental health intervention in schools in the Greater Manchester area in the United Kingdom. Researchers piloted a digital intervention consisting of two components: (1) Lexplore, a reading assessment using eye-tracking technology to assess reading ability and identify any atypicality, and (2) Lincus, a web-based platform for emotional, social, and physical well-being measures wellbeing for monitoring and includes customized child-relevant information, local resources, and links. The intervention was implemented at a primary school for 6 weeks and all children were eligible for the study. During the 6-week period, Lexplore assessments were conducted twice in each school and participants were asked to spend about 5 minutes during free time every morning to complete surveys on the Lincus platform. Students, parents, and teachers also provided qualitative feedback about the digital platforms at group workshops or appointments. Results demonstrated that 88% of students completed both the initial and follow-up assessments for Lexplore and on average, approximately 1 Lincus survey per user per week was recorded. Overall, children and teachers found the digital intervention engaging, usable, and acceptable. However, there were some important barriers identified: log-in difficulties, incorporating the Lincus and Lexplore assessments into routines, availability of tablets across classes, and poor parental engagement. Overall, the intervention was well-received, and the study identified barriers and facilitators which will inform future research in this setting.


RI Nonprofit Helping Mend Kids’ Mental Health, One Text at A Time

Article Excerpt: The Greatest 8 is a free text message service developed in Rhode Island to help parents give their children the eight skills for mental wellness:

  • Accomod8: Coping and resilience
  • Collabor8: Problem solving
  • Elev8: Self-perceived confidence
  • Celebr8: Diversity awareness and respect
  • Negoti8: Conflict management and resolution
  • Contempl8: Identifying and understanding feelings
  • Regul8: Balancing emotions
  • Communic8: Communication skills

The weekly texts are catered to your child’s age, from newborn to 8 years old. “We teach kids how to tie their shoes, we teach them how to talk, how to walk, but we’re not intentionally helping to build mental health skills,” Susan Orban explained. Orban is the coordinator for the Washington County Coalition for Children, which developed the service along with partners URI and Brown University. She believes the issue of kids’ mental health has been simmering for quite a while, but COVID-19 catapulted it to the forefront, as the impacts of virtual learning, social isolation and wearing masks took hold.

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Article Source: WPRI


Virtual Reality in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: Patient Emotional and Physiologic Responses

Badke CM, Krogh-Jespersen S, Flynn RM, Shukla A, Essner BS and Malakooti MR (2022) Virtual Reality in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: Patient Emotional and Physiologic Responses. Front. Digit. Health 4:867961. doi: 10.3389/fdgth.2022.867961

In this study, researchers evaluated the effects of virtual reality (VR) as an intervention for pain and distress management for patients hospitalized in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Feasibility outcomes included children’s engagement and enjoyment of VR. Patterns of physiological responses were assessed via heart rate variability. The study enrolled 115 PICU patients ages 3 to 17 years and capable of wearing the heart rate device. Participants selected from a set of 360-degree VR experiences, including adventures (i.e. roller coasters), animals (i.e. dogs, rabbits), and nature (i.e. landscapes) and used the VR as long as they wished. During the VR sessions, the researchers collected children’s comments, number of smiles and laughs, and engagement level. Immediately after the session, parents and participants completed a questionnaire on the acceptability of the VR experiences. Continuous heart rate data were extracted from bedside monitors. Results indicated that 94% of children enjoyed the experience, 83% of participants smiled and 72% made positive comments during the experience. On average, the participants had very high degree of engagement. Parents and children reported the VR is enjoyable and calming. Heart rate variability scores were higher during VR and returned to their pre-intervention state after VR. Overall, VR is a potential tool for enhancing the hospital environment for children. Further research is needed to understand the impact on patient physiology and clinical outcomes.


Engaging Children and Young People in Digital Mental Health Interventions: Systematic Review of Modes of Delivery, Facilitators, and Barriers

Liverpool S, Mota CP, Sales CMD, Čuš A, Carletto S, Hancheva C, Sousa S, Cerón SC, Moreno-Peral P, Pietrabissa G, Moltrecht B, Ulberg R, Ferreira N, Edbrooke-Childs J. Engaging Children and Young People in Digital Mental Health Interventions: Systematic Review of Modes of Delivery, Facilitators, and Barriers. J Med Internet Res 2020;22(6):e16317. doi: 10.2196/16317

The purpose of this systematic review was to identify different modes of delivery used in children and young people in digital mental health interventions, explore factors that influence usage and implementation, and describe whether children and young people engage in digital health interventions. Eligible studies had a sample with children and young people, a digital health intervention targeting a mental health symptom or problem, and explored the adherence, acceptability, or barriers and facilitators to engagement. A total of 83 articles, with 71 interventions, met inclusion criteria. Cognitive behavioral therapy was the most common therapeutic modality. Affective disorders (including anxiety and depression) were the most common targets of the digital health interventions. The review identified 6 different modes of delivery: websites, games and computer-based programs, apps, robots and digital devices, virtual reality, and mobile text messaging. The findings show children and young people prefer interventions with features such as videos, limited text, ability to personalize, ability to socialize with others, and text message reminders. This review also found that studies reported a high average retention rate of 79%. Overall, digital health interventions can support children and young people at various stages of psychological treatment. Future research is needed to explore which modalities are most effective for increasing engagement and improving mental health outcomes.


A Year of Living Online Has Caused a Youth Mental Health Crisis. Can Tech Help Us Solve It?

Article Excerpt: A pandemic within a pandemic. That’s what experts are calling it. Subjected to screens in a year of mostly remote learning, children’s mental health has suffered. Physically distanced from many of the supports and connections that define childhood and school in a year of unprecedented stressors, “the kids are not OK,” as Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said in February. It’s a sentiment that’s been echoed repeatedly, by governors all throughout New England, from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to Rhode Island, as well as the Centers for Disease Control, which reported that nationwide the proportion of children’s mental health-related emergency department visits, among all pediatric emergency department visits, rose from mid-March through October 2020, with increases of 24% among children aged five to 11 years and 31% among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, compared with the same period in 2019.

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Article Source: Union Leader


Young people’s use of digital health technologies in the global north: Narrative review

Lupton D. (2021). Young people’s use of digital health technologies in the global north: Narrative review. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 23(1): e18286. doi: 10.2196/18286

This narrative review examines the literature from 2010 to present on use of digital health technologies among young people ages 5-30 in the global north (North America, Western Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand). Read More


Despite Recent Downturn, Local Health Officials Still Concerned Over Vape Use Among Teens

Article Excerpt: The number of eighth-graders who admit vaping in the last 30 days rises every year, according to surveys by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Since 2016, the percentage has doubled. Last year, almost half the 12th-graders surveyed vaped, as well. University of Cincinnati Addiction Sciences assistant professor Dr. LaTrice Montgomery, whose research focuses on marijuana and tobacco co-use, said THC plays no small role.

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Article Source: WCPO Cincinnati