Youth Digital Mental Health Interventions - Evidence Review and Practical Considerations

Due to the various barriers that children and adolescents often experience when accessing in-person mental healthcare (e.g., stigma, transportation, cost, insurance), digital interventions have been identified as an alternate and promising modality to facilitate evidence-based intervention service delivery for young people. Youth digital mental health interventions (DMHIs) are defined in this presentation as publicly available, online self-administered intervention programs that do not require a clinician or caregiver to implement. This area of literature is rapidly growing and specifically supports the effectiveness of the modification of cognitive-behavioral therapy into a digital/blended self-administered format. This presentation will outline the general evidence-base of youth DMHIs across settings, with a focus on CBT-based DMHIs and general best practices based on the current state of the literature. Specific guidance will be provided regarding which subpopulations of children and adolescents may be good candidates for DMHIs, along with subpopulations with less evidentiary support. Additionally, this presentation will provide introductory guidance for providers regarding how to use DMHIs within stepped models of care across various care settings (i.e., integrated pediatric primary care settings, schools, etc.). Further, this presentation will discuss practical considerations and limitations of using these tools in real world clinical and school settings, with step-by-step recommendations for ways to put these tools into practice. Finally, the DMHI literature will be discussed within the larger context of culturally sensitive behavioral and mental healthcare.

Presented by: Maddy Esterer

Maddy has a Master's degree in School Psychology and is a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner in Nebraska. Maddy will be earning her PhD in School Psychology in 2024. Maddy currently works for the Munroe-Meyer Institute providing behavioral health services to youth, adolescents, and families in an integrated primary care setting. Maddy has experience providing behavioral and mental health supports to youth in schools and primary care settings in both Michigan and Nebraska. Maddy is also a team member of the Mid-America Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) Network, which assists mental health programs and providers in establishing evidence-based programs that are locally supported and sustainable in the Mid-America region. Maddy has been building her expertise in digital interventions for mental health for several years, which complements her other interests in trauma-informed care and equitable service provision across school and clinical settings.

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