5 November 2014

Promising potential to integrate technology and youth health practice

New research has found that both young people and service providers are generally interested in integrating technology into mental health treatment, yet a lack of research on how to do so seems to be preventing its uptake.

The findings have been released by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health after screening more than 11,000 articles as part of a literature review. This comprehensive review indicated that there is a need for further evidence on how to use technology to engage young clients and complement traditional treatments, but the limited research thus far is promising. Focus group research as a part of the report found that both young people and youth mental health clinicians were enthusiastic about integrating technology into health care, endorsing its potential to engage young clients and the use of technology as a complement to face-to-face treatment.

The new research is encouraging and signals the need for more research to be conducted in this important area. Lead author, Alice Montague says, ‘When talking to young people and youth service providers, it is clear they believe technology has an important role to play in mental health treatment. In the risk averse world of mental health services, there is a need for the sector and the evidence base to evolve to match the break-neck trajectory of digital progress.’

CEO of the Young and Well CRC, Associate Professor Jane Burns, says the findings provide even more incentive and urgency for further research to be done, in order to drive clinical uptake, ‘This research reinforces what many early adopters of technology already know; technologies can be effective and unrivalled add-ons to face-to-face treatment. It is therefore now a matter of getting more of the sector on board—we need to further our research in this area, and ensure it translates in the real world. It may be a challenge, but it will come with invaluable rewards for our young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

The full report, “Putting Technology into Practice”, can be downloaded from