The CHÉOS Addictions and Concurrent Disorders Group hosted the 5th Annual e-Mental Health Conference, “Youth e-Mental Health: New Ways of Caring,” on February 9 and 10 to resounding success. The two-day conference brought together a unique group including mental health advocates, service providers, policy makers, researchers, developers, and youth with lived experience, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of improving mental health with technology.
The conference began with a focus on education-based solutions with web-based projects from McGill University and UBC that target university students, and the Learning for Life project, which focuses on elementary students. CHÉOS Scientist Dr. Michael Krausz and his team presented their work on WalkAlong, an online mental health resource made possible through Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk campaign. Further presentations introduced a number of web-based and smartphone applications focusing on issues such as hazardous drinking, problem gambling, mindfulness, stress management, and an innovative game-based approach to CBT from New Zealand.
Several talks focused on the need to establish clear research guidelines to determine the efficacy of these technologies, and suggestions for how policy development can be an important lever in disseminating effective tools. Lived experience was an important component of the conference, with many speakers stressing the need to collaborate with youth to develop applications. There were also presentations from mental health advocates, youth with lived experience, and Victoria-based Youthspace.ca on how technology can be used to improve mental health.
The conference concluded by noting that e-mental health solutions will play an important role in future mental health service delivery, and that there needs to be a more coordinated and collaborative approach to developing new solutions.