Digital technologies to support adolescents with depression and anxiety

Bevan Jones, Rhys; Hussain, Faris; Shameem Agha, Sharifah; Weavers, Bryony; Lucassen, Mathijs; Merry, Sally; Stallard, Paul; Simpson, Sharon Anne and Rice, Frances (2022). Digital technologies to support adolescents with depression and anxiety. BJPsych Advances (In press).

Abstract

Depression and anxiety are common in adolescents, but most affected will not get any formal help. Digital mental health technologies (i.e., resources and interventions to support and improve mental health) have been identified as a potential way to extend the reach and increase adolescents’ access to therapies, at a relatively low cost. Many young people can access the internet and mobile technologies, including in low- and middle‐income countries. There has been increased interest in integrating technologies in a range of settings, especially because of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on adolescent mental health, at a time when services are under pressure. There is growing evidence to support the use of some technologies, with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK) guidelines for depression in young people recommending digital cognitive behavioural therapy. This clinical review gives an overview of digital technologies to support the prevention and management of depression and anxiety in adolescence. The technologies are presented in relation to their technological approaches, underlying psychological or other theories, setting, development, evaluations to date, and how they might be accessed. There is also a discussion on the potential benefits, challenges, and future developments in this field.

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