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Evaluating an innovative e-mental health solution to support youth with mental health disorders in Northwestern Ontario

Principal Investigator:
  • Aislin Mushquash, Lakehead University
  • Azrieli Foundation

Project Overview

Many youth suffer from mental health-related brain disorders which can have devastating consequences Effective treatment is desperately needed. Youth in underserviced areas such as Northwestern Ontario have increased need for and decreased access to mental health treatment, especially those in rural and remote areas. Limited access and longer waits for treatment can lead to worsening symptoms, can increase the risk for more serious outcomes, and can negatively impact engagement in treatment once it is received. Our team proposes to evaluate the impact of a mobile mental health app (JoyPopTM) for youth waiting for mental health treatment – thereby providing youth with more timely support and helping them to improve their coping skills and mental health-related symptoms. The JoyPopTM app is one mobile mental health app that has a growing evidence base demonstrating important benefits for youth. This app is relevant to youth seeking mental health treatment as difficulties in emotion regulation are common across diagnoses. We have partnered with the two largest youth mental health agencies in Northwestern Ontario to investigate the benefits of the JoyPopTM app within these clinical settings. The main goal of our research is to determine the effectiveness of the app in improving emotion regulation skills among a diverse group of youth on the wait-list for mental health treatment compared to usual practices. We will also determine what difference in emotion regulation skills is meaningful to youth, assess changes in their mental health-related symptoms, conduct an economic evaluation assessing the cost effectiveness and cost utility of integrating the app into clinical services, and compare outcomes among Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, and youth across the gender spectrum. Our research can directly address youth mental health by improving accessibility and timeliness of care and transforming future service delivery.