A Mental Health App for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth
Australian Rotary Health (ARH) funding has supported the development of a new mental health smartphone app for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
PhD candidate Josie Povey from the Menzies School of Health Research (NT) has engaged over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, an expert reference group, and a team of experienced researchers in the design and development of the ‘The Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y)’ app.
“The AIMhi for Youth App is a strengths-based self-driven smartphone app which has been designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to address the current unmet need for services in the early intervention mental health setting,” Josie said.
“Its potential to promote wellbeing, help-seeking and increase understanding of mental health concerns is exciting.”
Josie says the findings from her PhD project have highlighted the strengths and challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (aged 10-18) in regional and remote centers of the Northern Territory.
“While many young people were connected to things that keep them strong, like family, sport, art, and culture, many also experienced challenges, including distress and exposure to suicidal behaviour,” she said.
“Barriers to access of culturally appropriate youth services were noted, including shame, stigma and fear, limited choice of and distance to services.”
In her research, Josie identified that digital mental health tools specifically designed to suit the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people may be one way to increase access to mental health care.
It was noted that preferred app features included storytelling through characters and videos, mini games to promote mindfulness, and features such as rewards and notifications.
“This project has engaged a wide and diverse group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people across regional and remote centers in the Northern Territory. It has been a pleasure to work with passionate, knowledgeable and proud young people who are interested in helping their families and peers.”
Josie said despite some challenges integrating evidence, stakeholder feedback, youth preferences and therapeutic approaches, the app has now been developed and is being pilot tested for its ability to improve wellbeing. Further testing is planned for 2022.
Josie has been working on this project since 2017, and received top-up funding through an ARH Ian Scott PhD Scholarship from 2019-2020. Josie will submit her thesis in September this year.
The following journal articles have been published from this study:
- Drafting the Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) App: Results of a formative mixed methods study.
- Involvement of Indigenous young people in the design and evaluation of digital mental health interventions: a scoping review protocol.
The following journal articles are currently in press:
- Research implementors reflections throughout the Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) App Development Project.
- Involvement of Indigenous young people in the design and evaluation of digital mental health interventions: a scoping review.
Learn more about the AIMhi-Y app here.
Media contact: Jessica Cooper – email@example.com or (02) 8837 1900.