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A. Simon



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    PS06 - Digital Health Engagement Through Benefits and Data (ID 45)

    • Event: e-Health 2018 Virtual Meeting
    • Type: Panel Session
    • Track: Executive
    • Presentations: 1
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      PS06.02 - Txting for #youthmentalhealth: Provider and #ptexp (ID 621)

      A. Simon, Kids Help Phone; Toronto/CA

      • Abstract
      • Slides

      Purpose/Objectives: It is estimated that 1.2 million Canadian youth suffer from mental health issues, yet only 20% receive treatment. Yet delivering services to young people can be difficult. There are many reasons young people in need of mental health services may not wish to, or be able to, access traditionally-delivered mental health services. These include the desire for privacy, lack of local services or personal transportation to them, lack of acceptability of using cell phones for talking, limited data plans or bandwidth, etc. Digital health can play a key role in providing accessible and appropriate services to this population. The objective of this session is to provide an overview of the current state of digital mental health in Canada, present the experience of one provider offering a new 24/7 crisis texting line to youth in Canada, and amplify the patient point of view by presenting the patient experience in their own voice. These presentations will inform discussion during the question period around best practices for digital mental health solutions, engaging youth, and adopting a patient-centred approach.

      Methodology/Approach: Youth are increasingly less likely to use telephone or online chat when seeking help. Yet cellphones are nearly ubiquitous, and the use of texting is more acceptable to young people. For this reason, a bilingual, 24-hour, anonymous crisis text service, launched in 2017, provides an opportunity to address this accessibility gap. The crisis line provides service to youth without significant wait times. Using texting eliminates the need to download an app or use a cellphone data plan. The service is available in remote areas and areas that are typically underserved. A texting service allows an easier entry point for a youth in crisis, allowing them to be connected to on-the-ground resources including emergency services and child welfare after engaging with the texting service. The technology platform can be continually improved and lends itself to rigorous monitoring and evaluation. The solution can be integrated into other platforms, such as social media (Facebook, Snapchat, etc.).

      Finding/Results: Data from an initial release across one province will be presented. The data will inform local and national actors on trends and patterns, as well as add to the knowledge base of how young people experience mental health issues, and which words or concepts may be leading indicator for crisis. The data will also show usage patterns and areas of demand, which will provide lessons for scale-up to the national level. The effectiveness of outreach and engagement activities associated with the limited production release will also be assessed. Data from this implementation in Canada will be compared to the experience of other countries.

      Conclusion/Implications/Recommendations: The use of texting is an innovative way to provide services for youth in crisis. Its success has implications for how health services are delivered, whether to youth or others. It is a tool with the potential to improve patient experience, the health of the youth population, and contribute to health care system efficiencies.

      140 Character Summary: Digital mental health can be more accessible, acceptable and effective for youth. 24/7 texting crisis service is an opportunity for kids to get help the way they want.

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