ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media
Depressive disorder in adolescence is common, disabling, and heightens the risk of suicide. Preventing the onset of depression may prevent a lifetime of mental health issues and health service utilization.
There is growing evidence that prevention programs based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective. These can be targeted at those at ‘high risk’ or made available for all (universal). Universal prevention programs do not run the risk of identifying or stigmatizing individuals, but tend to be resource intensive and difficult to scale up.
We set out to develop a universal depression prevention program for adolescents that is delivered solely via their mobile phones. The program is based on cognitive behavioral therapy and was developed by experts in adolescent psychiatry and psychology. Key CBT messages are delivered via video diary style messages from ‘ordinary’ teenagers talking about issues and events in their lives, and the strategies they used to change the way they think about those events in order to be more positive.