Jamaican adolescents’ receptiveness to digital mental health services: a cross-sectional survey from rural and urban communities

Maloney, C. A., Abel, W. D. and McLeod, H. J. (2020) Jamaican adolescents’ receptiveness to digital mental health services: a cross-sectional survey from rural and urban communities. Internet Interventions, 21, 100325. (doi: 10.1016/j.invent.2020.100325)

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Background: Improving access to mental health resources for young people is an urgent healthcare challenge. As the majority of youth live in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) mental ill health can exert substantial adverse impacts on societies that can least afford it. Digital mental health technologies might help close the treatment gap but we need to understand barriers to implementing these strategies, especially in resource constrained contexts such as LMICs. Methods: We surveyed adolescents (N = 107; aged 10–19 years) from Jamaican communities using questionnaires adopted from previous studies conducted in LMICs. The questions addressed mental health help-seeking preferences, expectations of help-seeking effectiveness, and practical and attitudinal barriers to using mobile-phone-based mental health resources. We present descriptive data alongside exploratory analyses of differences in attitudes and preferences expressed by subgroups of respondents. Results: Adolescents reported very few practical or infrastructure barriers to accessing digital mental health resources. >90% of the sample had access to a smartphone, 78% expected that digital solutions could benefit adolescents with symptoms of mental distress, and 56% were interested in using mental health apps to monitor their own mental health. Stigma, shame, and embarrassment were major barriers to help-seeking and formal professional help was only preferred for more severe conditions such as psychosis and substance abuse. Conclusions: Practical barriers are unlikely to impede the uptake of digital mental health resources by Jamaican adolescents. Our data suggest that mental health literacy, stigma, and embarrassment pose more serious blocks to help-seeking.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McLeod, Professor Hamish
Authors: Maloney, C. A., Abel, W. D., and McLeod, H. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Internet Interventions
ISSN (Online):2214-7829
Published Online:07 May 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V.
First Published:First published in Internet Inventions 21: 100325
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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