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Title: Exploring young people's perspectives on apps for mental health and wellbeing : a qualitative study
Author: Jones, Katrina
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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Background: There are growing numbers of smartphone apps to support the mental health of young people (YP). The NHS Long Term Plan outlines a key focus on the use of technology to support health and wellbeing. Mental health apps (MHapps) have potential to help YP, but the evidence base for their efficacy is not clear, and research exploring young people's attitudes towards MHapps is lacking. Further in depth investigations and methodologically robust research are needed, where diverse populations of YP are included in research process, examining the development, content, safety, efficacy, and effectiveness of MHapps. Objective: This study explores the attitudes of university students (age 18 - 19) towards smartphone apps for mental health, and perspectives on their use. The purpose is to continue to inform effective design, engagement and evaluation of MHapps for YP. Method: This study used a qualitative research design, conducting five focus groups with young people aged 18 - 19 years. The data was analysed using Thematic Analysis. Results: Two major themes emerged: value and engagement - each contained a number of subthemes. Findings are discussed in context of functionality and delivery of apps; help-seeking and engagement; evidence base; co-production and evaluation of apps; and universality. Implications for policy, practice and future research are discussed. Conclusions: MHapps have numerous merits among young people, but concerns relating to app design, function and credibility need to be addressed. We should be cautious about a 'one size fits all' approach. There is a need to better understand how YP use MHapps, and it is essential that MHapps are co-designed with young people, clinicians and app developers, and are subject to evaluation.
Supervisor: John, Mary Sponsor: National Health Service
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral