Report: Putting technology into practice

The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre has released a new report “Putting Technology into Practice”, which explores evidence and opinions on integrating technology within youth health services.

We know that over 80% of young people have smartphones; it’s with them the whole time. I can’t be with my patients when they’re having an anxiety attack but you can guarantee that their phone is.


A literature review of 29 studies was conducted to explore how technology and e-mental health services are currently used to engage young people in mental health service delivery. Additionally, focus groups of clinicians and young people were conducted to supplement the findings from the literature review.  Below is a summary of some of the key findings.

Key findings

Literature review findings

  • Technology is an effective tool to engage young people in clinical practice. It can assist in appointment scheduling, developing clinician/client relationships and engaging young people in a stepped care approach.
  • Technology and e-mental health tools can be effectively used as an adjunct to face-to-face support. In particular, mood and behaviour tracking (using apps) was more effective than behaviour tracking alone. Participants were more aware of their emotions and the data collected facilitated meaningful discussions.
  • Clinicians who were actively involved in the organisational uptake of e-mental health tools were16 times more likely to implement e-mental health interventions in their work with young people.

Focus group findings

  • Young people prefer continued engagement via SMS reminders or emails and suggested that a phone call was the best way to make initial contact. However, individual differences determine the most preferred method of communication on an ongoing basis and clinicians should engage in a shared decision-making process to determine what is best for the client.
  • Young people are not comfortable being contacted by their clinician via social media. However, they suggested that being able to look up their clinician’s professional profile online allowed them to learn about their “human side” before the initial session.
  • Technology and e-mental health tools are positively regarded by young people and clinicians. They have the potential to extend care beyond face-to-face treatment and are best used as an adjunct to clinical serves rather than on their own.
  • Clinicians are motivated to integrate technology and e-mental health tools in their service delivery. They reported a lack of time and organisational support as a barrier to investigating new technologies as they become available.


These findings have a range of implications for service delivery including a need for organisations to support clinicians to use technology and e-mental health tools in practice.


Putting Technology into Practice is a collaboration between the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, and Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

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