Youth e-mental health in Scotland : challenges and opportunities

Pennington, Diane (2015) Youth e-mental health in Scotland : challenges and opportunities. In: BCS Health Informatics Scotland Conference, 2015-10-07 - 2015-10-08, Royal College of Surgeons.

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    One in ten UK youth have mental health issues (Watson & Douglas, 2012), and girls may be at higher risk than boys (Levin, Currie, & Muldoon, 2009). Predictors of mental health issues and emotional distress have been identified in area youth, such as material deprivation, lack of emotional support from parents, family issues, and lower education (Bjarnason & Sigurdardottir, 2003; Sweeting, West, Young, & Der, 2010). The UK has prioritised mental health reform (Department of Health, 2014). National resources such as See Me, a site devoted to decreasing mental health stigma ( and ChildLine, a phone and online help line for youth (, are making noteworthy attempts at connecting young people in the UK with engaging and useful mental health information. Much work remains to be done in order to connect youth with the mental health resources and information they need. The author’s prior research has demonstrated that differences exist between what young people search for, find, and prefer to interact with online, and sources that clinicians would consider authoritative sources. She has also found that low levels of information literacy and health literacy, unengaging information presentation such as dense text, and a mismatch between lay language and clinical language decreases the chances that youth will find the mental health information they need (Neal, Campbell, Williams, Lu, & Nussbaumer, 2011; Rasmussen Pennington, Richardson, Garinger, & Contursi, 2013). This paper will provide an overview of the author’s past work in this area. It will also present her plans for future research into the online mental health information needs and information seeking behaviours of Scottish youth ages 16-25.

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