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Kuosmanen, T; Fleming, TM; Barry, MM
Health Communication
Using Computerized Mental Health Programs in Alternative Education: Understanding the Requirements of Students and Staff
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Computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (cCBT) programs have been shown to be both acceptable and effective with youth. However, their use with more vulnerable youth, such as early school leavers, remains relatively unstudied. This study explored student and staff attitudes toward the use of cCBT in an alternative education setting. Methods: Student and staff needs were assessed using the Requirements development approach (Van Velsen, Wentzel, & Van Gemert-Pijnen, 2013). An online staff survey (n=16) was conducted to provide information on the context of delivery, and stakeholder requirements were further explored in four student workshops (n=32) and staff group discussions (n=12). Results: Students' requirements in relation to program look and feel were reflective of issues with literacy and concentration. Activity- rather than text-based programs were considered easier to learn from, whereas attractive design with features such as connecting with others were thought necessary to keep young people engaged. Students wanted to learn practical skills on improving their mental health and well-being, using content that is positive, encouraging, and credible and that can be tailored to individual needs. Anonymity and voluntary participation were considered essential when delivering cCBT in the context of alternative education, as well as additional access from home to ensure timeliness of support. Staff required both flexibility and careful planning and timetabling in order to deliver cCBT in the alternative education setting and to support student engagement. Conclusion: The findings provide novel insight into the needs and preferences of vulnerable youth, with important implications for the implementation of computerized mental health programs in alternative education settings. A better understanding of user needs and preferences is critical for improving the uptake and impact of e-mental health resources.
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