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Technology Enabled Adolescent Mental Health

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TEAM (Technology Enabled Adolescent Mental Health)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2018-11-01 do 2020-10-31

The World Health Organisation conceptualises health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Central to this is the principle that there is no health without mental health. Mental disorders are health conditions defined by the experiencing of distressing psychological symptoms, to the extent that normal functioning is impaired and some form of help is needed for recovery. The Global Burden of Disease Study has found that mental health difficulties are a leading cause of disability worldwide, accounting for 13% of all lost years of healthy life, rising to 23% in high income countries. A closer examination reveals that young people aged 10–24 represent 27% of the world’s population within which mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability, with 50% of mental disorders have emerged by age 14 and 75% present before 24 years of age. Unfortunately, international studies also conclude that most young people experiencing mental health difficulties do not receive appropriate specialist treatment. Reflecting this challenge new strategies for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems of young people has become a core objective of international healthcare policy.

TEAM brings together an interdisciplinary network of mental health experts, computer scientists, designers and policy experts. The overall objective is to train a new generation of researchers who can help to deliver more effective, more affordable and more accessible mental health services for young people. The focus is on the design, development and evaluation of new technology-enabled mental health services.

The program hadfour key research objectives (RO):

RO1: Development of automated, technology-enabled assessment tools for improved early diagnosis and intelligent on-going assessment of mental-health difficulties in young people.

RO2: Design of technology-enabled programs that help to prevent mental health difficulties by empowering young people and helping to build resilience and care for their own mental health, thus reducing the incidence of mental health difficulties.

RO3: Development of technology-enabled tools that support improved access to effective, engaging and evidence-based treatments that are adaptable and involve a wider range of care providers.

RO4: Investigation of key policy areas in relation to the delivery of technology-enabled mental health, including shared decision-making, open data and legal and ethical frameworks.

In achieving these objectives TEAM has delivered innovative technologies and policies that enable early assessment, prevention, and treatment of mental health difficulties in young people.
RO1 was achieved through tasks in WP1 Assess. This included:

Task 1.1 - Physiological Gesture and the Physiological Tacton, a vibrotactile feedback that represents the dynamics of a physiological gesture, were investigated to test if signals can be identified and tactile representation produced. Haptic representations of these signals were developed.

Task 1.2 - A smartphone based diagnostic tool was evaluated and established the potential of smartphone self-monitoring and smartphone generated data as a composite biomarker for bipolar disorder in people aged 15 to 25.

Task 1.3 - A model for personalising, subjective well-being interventions has been developed. Based on this model, a wellbeing recommender system was built and successfully tested in a market ready mental health app.

Task 1.4 - Studies of online help-seeking were completed. The results of this work were analysed via existing theories of help-seeking to provide theoretical foundations for the design of online help seeking tools.


RO2 was achieved through tasks in WP2 Prevent. This included:

Task 2.1 - A socio-ecological model of resilience was developed and translated into a design framework to support mental health promotion for unaccompanied migrant youth (UMY). A guidebook for mentors to align services and responses to UMY was co-designed with mentors and is now in use.

- Task 2.2: Guidelines were constructed for virtual assistant technologies to support people with cognitive impairments due to acquired brain injuries.

- Task 2.3: A new app and integrated framework were developed to support children with emotional regulation difficulties.

-Task 2.4: A six-tiered architecture for a multimodal and customisable toolkit was created and designed. It and will support a broad range of tailorable mental health prevention interventions.


RO3 was achieved through tasks in WP3 Treat. This included:

Task 3.1 - A randomised controlled trial of Pesky gNATs, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) game in the Health Services Executive in Ireland was conducted.

Task 3.2 - A smartphone app that provides personalised toolkit of short-term and long-term strategies to reduce auto-aggressive behaviour was designed.

Task 3.3 - An adaptable toolkit was developed to enable the rapid creation and adaptation of therapeutic games that support mental health interventions. A series of therapeutic games was created.

Task 3.4 - Two computer-based tools for cognitive assessment have been designed and evaluated. The first supports remote, in-the-home assessment of cognitive functioning. The second tool supports smartphone and smartwatch-based, ambulatory assessment of cognitive functioning.


RO4 was achieved through tasks in WP4 Policy. This included:

Task 4.1 - An app and policy guidelines to support shared decision making in parents or caregivers of children with mental health difficulties was designed and evaluated.

Task 4.2 - A conceptual framework for the engagement of participants in open access research platforms was built. A user-interface for participation enrolment and engagement has been designed and is currently being implemented.

Task 4.3 - An Ethics and Governance Framework (EGF) for human computer interaction (HCI) design processes was developed.
In assessment, TEAM has identified biomarkers and physiological signals that enable early assessment of mental health difficulties in young people. A novel computational model which optimises subjective wellbeing by modelling personality traits and daily activities, and theoretical ground guidelines for help-seeking technology extend the state of the art and provide improved, rapidly access personalised help.

In prevention, TEAM has developed a apps support resilience in both large-scale populations and in vulnerable populations such as unaccompanied migrant youth. Results include a guidebook for mentors to align services and responses to migrant youth is now in use.

In treatment, computer-based tools for cognitive assessment have been shown to be a valid measure of cognitive functioning in affective disorders as compared to prior golden standard methods. Games created with the adaptable games toolkit have been evaluated through RCT and are now in widespread use in clinical services in Ireland.

In policy, TEAM has provide guidelines for shared decision making, open data and an ethical/legal framework for technology enabled mental health. Together with technologies developed in other WPs these policy advances will help to guide future research in this area.

Overall TEAM has demonstrated the potential of technology, developed through interdisciplinary, research to address a key societal challenge and support improved mental health in young people.
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