The AIMhi Stay Strong team at Menzies School of Health Research is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Support Program (2022-2025) to deliver activities to support First Nations young people in rural, remote, and urban settings at risk of distress and suicide. Although resilient, they are also a vulnerable group for whom help-seeking is hindered by stigma, distance, cost, and cultural and linguistic differences. There is increasing evidence that culturally tailored digital tools can provide effective, accessible mental health care with whole of population reach. Few tools, however, are successfully implemented and rigorously evaluated.
Foundational work involving intensive codesign and feasibility testing provides a strong basis for successful uptake. Codesigned with First Nations young people, the AIMhi-Y app has been successfully tested in services in the Northern Territory. This project adopts a staged approach to implementation of the AIMhi-Y app more widely, in Darwin, Alice Springs, Adelaide and other sites to be determined beyond 2022. Additional codesign workshops will tailor the resources to these different locations.
To provide accessible mental health support for First Nations young people aged 12-25 years to address key risk factors for youth suicide through collaboration with youth wellbeing services in Darwin, Alice Springs, and Adelaide (and potentially other sites) to support implementation of the newly developed AIMhi-Y app and support package.
- Further develop and tailor the AIMhi-Y app as an evidence-based suicide prevention support service through:
- Establishing Youth Reference Groups in each site
- Conducting school-based workshops in SA to tailor AIMhi-Y to local context1
- Conducting codesign workshops with Youth Reference Groups in all sites
- Codesigning video and SMS resources to create the AIMhi-Y app support package
- Creating an easily navigable website to host First Nations youth support resources
- Support broad reach and successful implementation of the AIMhi-Y support package as an evidence-based activity that addresses risk and protective factors for suicide through:
- Consulting with services in three locations and nationally about the project
- Recruiting 2-5 services in three locations each year of three years
- Developing implementation support resources (user guides, manuals, protocols)
- Engaging services in implementation planning to guide organisational readiness
- Engaging site champions as a group for follow up support and sharing of strategies
- Disseminating regular updates via established networks
- Establishing a Project Advisory Group with majority First Nations membership
- Establish evidence of potential effectiveness of AIMhi-Y package through:
- Analysis of within-app wellbeing outcomes data (uploaded to online data base)
- Analysis of other app analytics including feedback and review section
This project will support services to implement the AIMhi-Y package in each location and addresses the need for suicide prevention and early intervention for First Nations young people. It provides a selective intervention for use by school and community-based services through an innovative smartphone app (AIMhi-Y) and support package. The AIMhi-Y app was codesigned with First Nations young people and elders in the NT to promote wellbeing and resilience. It is a brief, supported, and self-guided intervention for young people 12-25 years which embeds guidance from elders, building connection with country and language. It retains elements of the Stay Strong approach, a holistic brief intervention acknowledging Indigenous cultural and family values, which has good evidence of effectiveness and acceptability. The AIMhi-Y app integrates cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness-based activities and promotes conscious choice and a sense of control over important life decisions, consistent with trauma-informed care.
Implications for policy and practice:
The Australian Government has identified digital mental health tools as important additions to health care services with potential to increase access to mental health information and care. Apps and programs that are designed with end users have the best chance of success. The AIMhi-Y app addresses key risk factors for youth suicide - compromised mental health, cultural dislocation, and limited access to services.
Research findings, so far, highlight the need, feasibility and potential of the AIMhi-Y app from the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. We look forward to making the app more widely available from 2022 whilst closely monitoring and evaluating the outcomes and impact of the program using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research.
We recommend young people use the app in collaboration with a support service. This can include schools, social and sporting clubs, health services or other support organisations.
If you are a service provider considering using the app in your practice, please get in touch with our team to receive additional resources and support for using this approach with your clients.
- Start date: Jan 2018 - ongoing
If your organisation supports young people, and you are interested in getting involved, please be in touch via email.
1 The App was developed in the NT and has stories and language relevant to Darwin and Alice Springs young people.
- Channel 7 Children Research Fund – Phase One
- Suicide Prevention Australia – Phase Two
- Northern Territory Primary Health Network – App development
- NT Department of Education
- Tiwi College
- Tiwi Land Council
- Stars Foundation
- Clontarf Foundation
- Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Programs (CAAPS)
- Anglicare NT (headspace Darwin)
- Povey, J., Sweet, M., Nagel, T., Lowell, A., Shand, F., Vigona, J., & Dingwall, K. M. (2022). Determining Priorities in the Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth App Second Phase Participatory Design Project: Qualitative Study and Narrative Literature Review. JMIR formative research, 6(2), e28342. doi:10.2196/28342
- Povey, J., Sweet, M., Nagel, T., Mills, P. P. J. R., Stassi, C. P., Puruntatameri, A. M. A., . . . Dingwall, K. (2020). Drafting the Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) App: Results of a formative mixed methods study. Internet Interventions, 21, 100318. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.invent.2020.100318.
- Povey, J., Mills, P., Dingwall, K., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., . . . Nagel, T. (2016). Acceptability of Mental Health Apps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: A Qualitative Study. J Med Internet Res, 18(3), e65. doi: 10.2196/jmir.5314.
The AIMhi Stay Strong app is a colourful, user-friendly digital mental health tool developed by Menzies with Australian First Nations people.