Logging Into Therapy

Originally by Grace Sweeney, Griffith University

The majority of young people experiencing mental health problems do not access treatment. In effort to improve this, technology is being used to change the way we can support the mental health of our children. Evidence-based treatment programs are now available online for children and adolescents who experience mental health challenges. These ‘computer-based therapies’ have been shown to be effective in supporting young people with anxiety, depression, body-image concerns, pain, substance use, and other common hurdles. However, awareness and use of these innovative therapies remains very low in the community.

Even into the adolescent years, parents continue to support their children’s mental health and well-being. For children with mental health challenges, this can often include making decisions about when and where to seek professional help.

So, would you log into therapy to support your child’s mental health?

This was the question asked by a team of researchers at Griffith University and the University of Southern Queensland. The team have been exploring and developing computer-based therapies for the past 12 years and in their latest research they are asking parents about what they think of these programs.

In a recent study, yet to be published, the team found that parents in the community had very positive attitudes towards computer-based therapies and saw them as a highly accessible alternative to traditional face-to-face support. However, their knowledge of these programs was very low and only one in four parents said they would prefer to log into therapy than attend a clinic for their child, if both options were available.

While these findings are promising, not all parents who participated in the research had a child experiencing mental health challenges at the time. What about parents who are facing the real decision of where to seek help for their child? Do they see these programs any differently? And, why did they choose face-to-face therapy instead? The research team’s latest study is seeking to find answers to these vital questions.

If we can improve the uptake of computer-based therapies, we can increase the number of young people who are accessing effective treatment when needed, and can ultimately improve the mental health and well-being of young Australians.

If you have a child under the age of 18 who is currently attending a mental health service and you are willing to share your opinions about computer-based therapies, you can help out by completing a 30-minute online survey. The extra bonus? All participants can enter into a prize draw for a $100 gift-voucher.

For more information or to participate, visit our Facebook page.

About the Author: Peta Lilley

Peta completed the Clinical Psychology PhD Program within the School of Psychology, The University of Queensland (UQ). The focus of her research was the development of emotional and behavioural difficulties (particularly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD) in children and adolescents following trauma. Peta has also completed a post-doctoral research fellow position in the School of Medicine at UQ.

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