loading page

Getting help early: An online mental health self-assessment tool for young people
  • +2
  • Ulrich Schall,
  • Afra Fischer,
  • Oliver J. Smith,
  • Paula Gómez Álvarez,
  • Jörg Wolstein
Ulrich Schall
The University of Newcastle Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Afra Fischer
Otto-Friedrich-Universitat Bamberg Institut fur Psychologie
Author Profile
Oliver J. Smith
The University of Newcastle Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research
Author Profile
Paula Gómez Álvarez
Southern Cross University Faculty of Science and Engineering
Author Profile
Jörg Wolstein
Otto-Friedrich-Universitat Bamberg Institut fur Psychologie
Author Profile

Abstract

Introduction: Online self-assessment tools are becoming more and more common and they serve as a screening tool for specific conditions or assess mental health more broadly. Methods: This study presents preliminary data from an online self-assessment tool for young people within the intended age range of 12 to 30 years. It covers key symptoms of mood and psychotic disorders, as well as risk factors, such as eating issues, substance use, suicidality, and deliberate self-harming behaviours. Participants self-assessed their level of functioning, access to ongoing interventions, and satisfaction with the help received. Based on the severity of mental health problems and the level of risk, different recommendation options of how to seek help were provided with the option to download their assessment as a PDF. Results: Out of a total of 303, 114 participants within the intended age range (65.8% female) gave permission to analyse their data. A high-risk profile was defined by anxiety symptoms, panic attacks, suicidal ideation, and urges to self-harm. Individuals with this profile were more likely to report psychosis or depression symptoms and recreational substance use associated with lower self-assessed day-to-day functioning. Ongoing treatment and the satisfaction with it were not determined by the severity of symptoms. Conclusions: These preliminary results suggest that the online self-assessment tool effectively reaches the intended young audience, particularly those who experience some degree of mental health problems. The tool may act as a motivational step to seeking professional help.