Peer-support mobile app for adolescent mental health prevention
Background: While mental health apps and online programs have proliferated, there is a lack of evidence-based online interventions aiming to upskill adolescents around supporting peers in relation to mental health and/or substance use.
Aims: To develop and trial the ‘Mind your Mate’ program, a brief classroom lesson and smartphone app for adolescents (aged 15-16 years) targeting peer support around anxiety, depression, and substance use.
Methods: The program was collaboratively designed by young people and aims to upskill and empower adolescents to better support their peers around mental health and substance use. It is a self-guided program, providing adolescents with normative information about mental health and substance use, facilitating checking in with friends and encouraging help-seeking.
A cluster RCT was run during the first wave of the COVID pandemic. Primary outcomes included substance use and mental health knowledge, use of alcohol and drugs, anxiety and depression symptoms. Outcomes will be analysed using mixed-effects linear regression and mixed-effects logistic regression.
Results: The program is currently being evaluated in 12 Sydney secondary schools, with n=400 student. 12-month follow-up data will be available from June 22 and outcomes results will be presented at the conference. Preliminary analyses demonstrate an app registration rate of 13.5%, a 3-minute average engagement time, and 49 users accessing 1.6 education modules on average.
Conclusions: It is anticipated that compared to the control condition, students who receive the intervention will show delayed uptake of substance use and less mental ill health.