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Tag: social support

Predictors of adolescent engagement and outcomes – A cross-sectional study using the Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall) digital mental health platform

Marinova N, Rogers T, and MacBeth A. “Predictors of Adolescent Engagement and Outcomes – A Cross-Sectional Study Using the Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall) Digital Mental Health Platform.” Journal of affective disorders 311 (2022): 284–293.

This study modelled predictors of engagement and symptom change in adolescent users of Togetherall anonymous digital mental health peer-support platform. Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of longitudinal user data from 606 Togetherall users (16-18 years old) referred from mental health services in the United Kingdom. Togetherall is a membership-based digital platform that supports delivery of peer support moderated by professionals, self-help materials, guided courses, digital art, and self-monitoring of mental well-being. Usage metrics, including number of logins, session duration, usage time, and number of guided courses and self-help materials accessed were collected. Participant characteristics and anxiety and depression symptoms were used to predict engagement and participants chose when and whether to complete a symptom measure. Average number of logins was 5.11 and mean usage time 64.22 minutes. 34% of participants discontinued use after one log-in. Total usage time predicted more access of self-help materials. Females made greater use of materials and courses than males. Higher baseline depression and anxiety, longer usage time, and session duration predicted lower post intervention depression scores. Higher baseline depression and anxiety and more self-help materials accessed predicted lower post intervention anxiety scores. Findings demonstrate that adolescents with significant levels of morbidity readily engaged with an anonymous online platform for support with mental health. Togetherall may offer a supportive community for adolescents using mental health services. Future studies are needed to establish effectiveness, adherence and acceptability using robust RCTs with active comparison groups.


Examining Social Media Experiences and Attitudes Toward Technology-Based Interventions for Reducing Social Isolation Among LGBTQ Youth Living in Rural United States: An Online Qualitative Study

Escobar-Viera CG, Choukas-Bradley S, Sidani J, Maheux AJ, Roberts SR, Rollman BL (2022). Examining Social Media Experiences and Attitudes Toward Technology-Based Interventions for Reducing Social Isolation Among LGBTQ Youth Living in Rural United States: An Online Qualitative Study. Frontiers in Digital Health, 4.

This study examined rural LGBTQ youth’s social media experiences and attitudes toward technology-based interventions for reducing perceived isolation. Researchers recruited via social media advertisements a total of 20 participants who identified as LGBTQ youth (14-19 years old), lived in rural areas, and screened positive for perceived social isolation. Qualitative interviews conducted virtually focused on social media experiences, personal strategies to improve social media experiences, and perspectives about digital intervention delivery. Data were analyzed using a thematic analysis. Three themes emerged from interviews: 1) positive representation of LGBTQ groups on social media are important, 2) content from people with shared experiences promotes experiences of support, and 3) lack of feedback about one’s experiences reduces perceived support. Participants discussed advantages and disadvantages of intervention delivery via mobile apps, social media, chatbots, and dedicated websites. Overall, rural-living LGBTQ youth who feel socially isolated turn to social media to seek support and connect in meaningful ways. Study findings identified key components to a positive social media experience among LGBTQ young people, which can inform future intervention development. Results also indicated a combination of delivery modalities may foster engagement of rural-living LGBTQ young people in digital interventions to improve social isolation outcomes.


Adolescents’ and young adults’ experiences of a prototype cancer smartphone app

Hanghøj S, Boisen KA, Hjerming M, Pappot H. Adolescents’ and young adults’ experiences of a prototype cancer smartphone app. DIGITAL HEALTH. January 2021. doi:10.1177/2055207621997258

Researchers evaluated the usefulness of a cancer smartphone app among adolescent and young adult cancer patients. Twenty cancer patients aged 16-29 years old were recruited and provided a prototype app. The Kræftværket app was co-created by health professionals and eHealth app developers. The app is based on a youth center (called Kræftværket) with a common room and wards for cancer patients aged 15-29 in the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. The aim of the app is to provide the experience of Kræftværket by bringing the in-person community into a virtual space. The app consists of a symptom and activity tracking diary and an information bank with videos, links, and Youtube channel specific for adolescent and young adult cancer patients. There is also a community forum and messaging function. Participants installed the app for a 6-week period and participated in focus group interviews at the end of this period to reflect on their experiences and evaluate the features and functions of the app. Participants were satisfied with the app as an everyday tool. A shared concern was that although the app was meant to address the continuum of cancer experience, it was considered by participants to be most relevant at disease onset. There were also safety concerns expressed related to anonymity, safe communication, and tracking statistics. Participants indicated that the app increased a feeling of normalcy and was feasible to integrate into everyday life. Feedback will be incorporated into a final version of the app; future research needs to investigate usability of the app on a larger scale throughout the cancer journey from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.


Addiction Treatment Is Hard. A New Wave of Apps Aims to Help

Article Excerpt: This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a stunning report that showed drug overdose deaths shot up 30% in 2020. While the pandemic has led to increased distress among Americans, it’s also opened the door for innovation in certain aspects of mental healthcare, especially around addiction. Rehabilitation programs—ranging from 12-step programs to medication-assisted therapy—all went online. Now, a cadre of startups are thinking about how they can leverage the boom in telehealth to deliver better addiction care.

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Article Source: Fast Company


Student Mental Health Declined at Start of Pandemic, Dartmouth Study Shows

Article Excerpt: A paper authored by Dartmouth researchers and published this month found that the COVID-19 pandemic increased symptoms of stress during the spring 2020 lockdown. The paper was based on data collected from 217 participants — members of the Class of 2021 — by a smartphone application called StudentLife… Computer science professor and senior paper author Andrew Campbell was motivated to determine whether mobile phones could be used to “predict” changes in mental health by tracking factors like sleep patterns and social interaction. According to Campbell, this study grew out of a desire to look at student experiences with mental health when they came to the “very competitive academic environment” at Dartmouth.

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Article Source: The Dartmouth


The Pros And Cons Of Digital Mental Health Care

Article Excerpt: Over the years, there have been great strides towards the use of technology in supporting healthcare services. While this is known to be suitable for physical health intervention, there has also been a rising utility in the realm of mental health care. Because of this, more businesses are leveraging technology to improve mental health care among clients. You can look at this now and read other similar resources to have an idea about how these medical trends came about.

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Article Source: Gilmore Health News


Rates of Anxiety and Depression Among College Students Continue to Soar, Researchers Say

Article Excerpt: College students are feeling more anxious and depressed as they sleep less and spend more time on their phones, researchers said after spending four years monitoring the behaviors of young people. Dartmouth College researchers began tracking 217 students when they entered the school as freshmen in 2017 in the hopes of understanding how they behave. They’ve seen students’ stress levels rise and fall, usually in tandem with midterm and final exams. But since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety have soared — and have showed no signs of coming down, said Andrew Campbell, a researcher and computer science professor.

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Article Source: Washington Post


Technology Enters Once and For All in The Fight Against Tobacco

Article Excerpt: Last year the World Health Organization launched a campaign for the World No Tobacco Day 2021, with a one-year cycle entitled “Commit to Quit smoking during COVID-19”. The challenge proposed by WHO confirmed two new realities for the theme: the lasting influence of the new coronavirus onto the population health, particularly those who smoke, and the definitive recognition of technology as an important way to help who wants to stop smoking. As the first initiative, UN health agency used the message service WhatsApp to implement the “Quit Challenge” and stimulate the construction of digital communities for social support. Previously, WHO had already used technology to create “Florence”, a digital health professional oriented by artificial intelligence (AI) that gives guidance and recommends helplines and support apps to whoever needs help to quit smoking.

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Article Source: Digital Journal


How Older Adults Can Get Back Into Physical Exercise Following Months of Pandemic Rules

Article Excerpt: Alice Herb, 88, an intrepid New Yorker, is used to walking miles around Manhattan. But after this year of being shut inside, trying to avoid covid-19, she has noticed a big difference in how she feels… Millions of older Americans are similarly struggling with physical, emotional and cognitive challenges following a year of being cooped up inside, stopping usual activities and seeing few, if any, people. If they don’t address issues that have arisen during the pandemic — muscle weakness, poor nutrition, disrupted sleep, anxiety, social isolation and more — these older adults face the prospect of poorer health and increased frailty, experts warn.

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Article Source: Washington Post via Kaiser Health News. Also posted in CNN Health.