The Research

Aotearoa/New Zealand is experiencing a crisis in youth mental health. In a resource-constrained environment, digital technologies are increasingly promoted as a solution to the escalating need for youth mental health services. However, surprisingly little is known about how youth/rangatahi actually use, ignore, create or re-deploy digital resources to support mental wellbeing. This project examines Māori, Pacific, Asian and Pākehā youths’ digital care strategies, from their use of anti-anxiety apps and mental health chatbots to their engagements with YouTube mental health vlogs and online forums combatting suicide or depression. We will examine how rangatahi partake in self-diagnosis and self-treatment as well as their ethical engagements in caring for friends, peers and previously-unknown others they encounter online. We will trace the impact of digital technology-use on youths’ relationships with family members and medical professionals, as well as on their expectations of the state, corporations and technologies themselves for ensuring mental wellbeing. By redefining lay and scholarly understandings of patient responsibility in order to reflect the actual complexities of young people’s everyday care practices, our ultimate aim is to elucidate how we can best employ digital technologies to help, rather than harm, rangatahi mental wellbeing. 

Click here to read about the researchers involved