The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) has developed the AIMhi-Y app. It is 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. Phase two of the project, began in August 2020, and tested the newly developed app in an early intervention mental health service (headspace Darwin) and an education setting (Stars and Clontarf Foundations). In 2022, we hope to make the app more available to services supporting young people across multiple sites in Australia.
- Co-design and develop the AIMhi-Y App with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, aged 10-18 years, from the Northern Territory (NT)
- Test the feasibility of the newly developed AIMhi-Y app with young people referred to an early intervention mental health service, Darwin
- Continue to develop new resources to support the AIMhi-Y app; for example a brief intervention pack.
- Support services in NT and South Australia (SA) to implement the AIMhi-Y app with young people, whilst continuing to test the app to ensure safety, efficacy and translation into practice.
More than 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the NT have been involved in the design, development and testing of the AIMhi-Y app. A pilot study tested the AIMhi-Y app with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Darwin. The study monitored participants wellbeing and explored what they liked and didn’t like about the app. An Indigenous Youth Reference Group and an Expert Reference Group helped guide the study.
30 young people (average age 14 years; 46% female) joined the study and were seen twice over one month. They generally liked the app (average overall rating of 4.6/5) and being in the study (average study rating 4.6/5). Psychological distress (K10), depression (PHQ2) and anxiety (GAD) improved but only changes in psychological distress and depression were statistically and clinically significant. This means that these results are unlikely to be due to just chance and the wellbeing improvements seen are likely to make a difference in a young person’s life. Minimal substance use was detected within the group (AUDIT-C) and therefore no change in substance use was observed. These positive results are encouraging; however, we cannot say the results are just due to using the AIMhi-Y app. Young people received other supports and were aware of what we aimed to find throughout the study, meaning other things could have influenced the results.
Implications for policy and practice:
The Australian Government has identified e-mental health tools as a potential strategy 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 aims to provide accessible early intervention care to young people in a fun and appealing way. As a culturally responsive, low-intensity digital mental health tool, the AIMhi-Y app can provide effective, accessible mental health care with comprehensive reach. Importantly, the 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. A therapist supported self-directed, bright, interactive, fun and engaging app has been developed and tested with promising results. We look forward to making the app more widely available in 2022 but we would still like to do further testing to ensure the app helps them to make positive changes. If your organisation is interested in trialling the app with young people please get in touch.
- Start date: Jan 2018 - ongoing
If your organisation supports young people, and you are interested in getting involved, please be in touch via email.
- 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.