Evidence on Digital Mental Health Interventions for Adolescents and Young People: Systematic Overview

Evidence on Digital Mental Health Interventions for Adolescents and Young People: Systematic Overview

Lehtimaki, S. Martic, J. Wahl, B. Foster, K. T. Schwalbe, N.
JMIR Mental Health
Background: An estimated 1 in 5 adolescents experience a mental health disorder each year; yet because of barriers to accessing and seeking care, most remain undiagnosed and untreated. Furthermore, the early emergence of psychopathology contributes to a lifelong course of challenges across a broad set of functional domains, so addressing this early in the life course is essential. With increasing digital connectivity, including in low- and middle-income countries, digital health technologies are considered promising for addressing mental health among adolescents and young people. In recent years, a growing number of digital health interventions, including more than 2 million web-based mental health apps, have been developed to address a range of mental health issues. Objective: This review aims to synthesize the current evidence on digital health interventions targeting adolescents and young people with mental health conditions, aged between 10-24 years, with a focus on effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and generalizability to low-resource settings (eg, low- and middle-income countries). Methods: We searched MEDLINE, PubMed, PsycINFO, and Cochrane databases between January 2010 and June 2020 for systematic reviews and meta-analyses on digital mental health interventions targeting adolescents and young people aged between 10-24 years. Two authors independently screened the studies, extracted data, and assessed the quality of the reviews. Results: In this systematic overview, we included 18 systematic reviews and meta-analyses. We found evidence on the effectiveness of computerized cognitive behavioral therapy on anxiety and depression, whereas the effectiveness of other digital mental health interventions remains inconclusive. Interventions with an in-person element with a professional, peer, or parent were associated with greater effectiveness, adherence, and lower dropout than fully automatized or self-administered interventions. Despite the proposed utility of digital interventions for increasing accessibility of treatment across settings, no study has reported sample-specific metrics of social context (eg, socioeconomic background) or focused on low-resource settings. Conclusions: Although digital interventions for mental health can be effective for both supplementing and supplanting traditional mental health treatment, only a small proportion of existing digital platforms are evidence based. Furthermore, their cost-effectiveness and effectiveness, including in low- and middle-income countries, have been understudied. Widespread adoption and scale-up of digital mental health interventions, especially in settings with limited resources for health, will require more rigorous and consistent demonstrations of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness vis-a-vis the type of service provided, target population, and the current standard of care.

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Behandling og hjelpetiltak


Psykiske vansker og lidelser

Følelsesmessige problemer

Depresjon og nedstemthet (inkl. både vansker og lidelse)

Bipolare lidelser

Selektiv mutisme



Angst og engstelighet (inkl. både vansker og lidelse)


Organisering av tiltak

E-helsetiltak (spill, internett, telefon)


Barn i skolealder (6-12 år)

Ungdom (13-18 år)

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