Exploring a Youth Mental Health Apps Database in Canada

Wisdom2Action (W2A) and RBC Future Launch are exploring the implementation of a virtual youth mental health apps database in Canada, to help young people, service providers and families identify apps that can work well to improve their mental health and meet their unique needs. To do this right, we need to connect and share with youth, service providers and families. That is what this session is all about. This project represents a unique opportunity for innovation in virtual mental health care to the benefit of youth, families and providers across Canada.

Presenters and slide deck

Fae Johnstone

Fae Johnstone (she/they) is a Principal Consultant with Wisdom2Action, based on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin territory. With Wisdom2Action, Fae leads community engagement, knowledge mobilization and capacity building initiatives related to 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion and Youth Mental Health. Last but certainly not least, Fae is known for her deep love of ferrets (she has 4) and her involvement with the Ferret Rescue Society of Ottawa.


Key Learnings

  • Some things to consider in creating a virtual database for apps include: the ability to filter for privacy, price, evidence, topics, features and platforms.
  • You’ll want to make sure the virtual database looks and feels simple, intuitive, available in numerous languages, and friendly.
  • In order to be used, a virtual database for apps needs to demonstrate credibility, reflect diversity and equity, meet youth where they’re at and build trust.

Thoughts from those with Lived/Living Expertise

What are some of the highlights?

  • The session highlighted the importance of considering how search terms reflect back to search results. This is because some search terms may have multiple components or aspects for consideration. For example, searching for an app that has privacy may consider privacy around the sharing of data collected (with therapists or authorized supports), or privacy with respect to the selling of data to external vendors.

How can information gained be used? 

  • Search terms can be combined to meet the diverse needs of youth/families/service providers when finding mental health-related apps. 
  • A searchable database can incorporate innovative ways to reflect the needs of equity-seeking groups when searching for apps.

What are the implications?

  • With the guiding information from the session, the broader youth mental health/substance use system can benefit from a collaborative, searchable database. This database could act as an intersection between app developers, service providers, service users, researchers, and diverse groups.

What would you like to know more about?

  • Could this database be adaptive, or how can this database remain updated considering the fast pace of app development and technology?
  • Can innovative technologies/algorithms form a database for technologically-inclined youth?

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