Accelerating Towards Sustainable Digital Mental Health

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Event Type: 
Seminar Series
Date and Time: 
Monday, January 22, 2018
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Stephen Schueller
Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
Digital technologies offer the potential to transform mental health services. Digital mental health interventions can extend the reach and impact of treatment, expand capacity, and reduce disparities. Over the past two decades we have seen a rapid proliferation of digital mental health interventions and research evidence demonstrating that such interventions can be efficacious. However, this research has not translated into sustainable implementations of digital mental health interventions nor have they had a considerable impact on mental health services. Several reasons contribute to this gap, perhaps most importantly, a failure to design digital interventions for sustainability from the outset. To address this problem, the Accelerated Creation to Sustainment (ACTS) model elucidates two functions (design and evaluation) that iteratively progress across phases of creation, trialing, and sustainment. In this talk, I will discuss a series of projects aimed at designing and evaluating digital mental health interventions in diverse settings and populations that highlight key aspects of the ACTS model. This includes co-designing “happiness” promoting technologies with middle school children, developing a technology platform to facilitate cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression within a healthcare system, and evaluating a smartphone-based intervention to provide mental health treatment to sheltered homeless youth. Additionally, I will discuss strategies for identifying, evaluating, and disseminating information about digital mental health interventions in an effort to broaden the impact of such resources. The ultimate success of the digital mental health revolution requires strengthening the path toward implementation to create impactful and sustainable solutions.