Lisa Wessels a social marketing student in Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations said her study aimed to find out from volunteers aged 18 to 25 whether they would use their mobile phones as a way to access services for managing and improving mental wellbeing.
“In Australia, young people (aged 16 to 25) are the group with the highest prevalence of mental illness with 26 per cent suffering from a mental health disorder, according to an ABS 2007 survey,” Ms Wessels said.
“Unfortunately, only about 25 per cent of young adults who need help with improving their mental wellbeing actually receive any. But around 100 per cent have mobile phones and access to the internet.”
Ms Wessels said the low rate of young people who sought professional help could be attributed to a number of factors.
“They could have a fear of the stigma attached to mental health issues or concerns about their privacy,” she said.
“Then there are practical reasons such as cost, geographic isolation, and lack of access to therapists that could be keeping young people away from the help they need.
“A mobile phone mental wellbeing service may offer a way for young adults to track their moods, keep an online diary, receive daily tips and encouragement, and work through self-help modules: all on their own terms anytime and anywhere.”
She said young adults had a preference for their mobiles for communicating with the world and were most likely to own one.
“They’ve grown up with mobiles and have incorporated them into their lifestyle,” she said.
“So this type of service delivery may suit them, but we need to find out what young people actually think about the idea.
“I also want to find out key features of a mental health program that young people would like to see so that one can be designed for optimal use.”
Ms Wessels would like young people 18 to 25 years who sometimes feel stressed, worried or low to take part in the study.
Study participants receive a $30 Coles Myer voucher and will be required to have a face-to-face interview at QUT’s Kelvin Grove Campus. To take part contact Ms Wessels on (07) 3138 4400 or [email protected]
Ms Wessels study is supervised by Professor Judy Drennan.
Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841 or [email protected]
** High res photo of Ms Wessels available for media use.