Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Digital Mental Health Intervention Uptake Among Distressed New Zealand High School Students in a Comprehensive Survey: Implications for Digital Help Provision

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Version 2 2023-02-23, 00:53
Version 1 2021-04-23, 04:47
posted on 2023-02-23, 00:53 authored by Shaw, Jessica

Background: High rates of mental distress are reported among adolescents. Emerging evidence suggests that digital mental health interventions, such as computerised psychotherapy, informative websites, and non-clinical helplines, may help. However, it is unclear whether these resources are reaching those who experience distress in real-world settings.

Aim: The aim of this research is to explore adolescent uptake of digital mental health interventions offered via a comprehensive youth health survey, with a particular focus on adolescents experiencing probable mental distress.

Methods: Data were drawn from the Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey. At the end of the survey participants were provided the opportunity to opt-in to receive digital health resources. Participants’ opt-in and access to these digital health resources, as well as if they accessed the specific mental health resources, was remotely monitored. We compare opt-in and access among participants with and without probable mental distress.

Results: Of those who completed the Youth19 survey (n = 7721), a substantial minority of participants opted-in to receive the digital health resources (n = 1720). However, of those who opted-in, access was low (n = 187). Participants with probable mental distress were more likely than their non-distressed counterparts to opt-in and access the digital health resources, although these differences were small. Importantly, only seven participants went on to access digital

mental health interventions.

Discussion: The moderate number of participants to opt-in to receive Youth19 digital health resources suggests that digital resources may be a valuable component of supporting diverse groups of adolescents. The high attrition, however, indicates that adolescents may be experiencing barriers to accessing these interventions. Smart design to increase appeal, addressing barriers that limit access, and providing multiple options for different groups could

increase adolescents’ engagement with digital mental health interventions.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Health Research

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Health Research

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

920209 Mental Health Services

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Health


Fleming, Theresa (Terry); Calder-Dawe, Octavia