E-mental health: the future of youth mental health?

Young people shoulder the burden of mental ill-health in our community, yet they often don’t seek, or delay seeking, help from mental health services. The reasons for this are many, and include fear of being stigmatised, poor awareness of the signs or symptoms of mental ill-health, a lack of access to youth-friendly services and geographical obstacles. Often, when they do access services, they may not receive adequate care due to a lack of funding and resources, or because they have difficulties engaging.

Given these barriers, and given that internet and  smartphone use are almost ubiquitous among young people in Australia, there has been a rise in interest in whether e-mental health interventions can fill this gap in care. E-mental health interventions include smartphone applications, online portals or support groups, social media and interventions delivered via computer. 

This research bulletin presents a sample of the most recent research into the acceptability and effectiveness of e-mental health interventions, along with research into methods for evaluating their quality and usefulness. It then considers how e-mental health may be integrated into clinical practice and identifies questions for future research.