HELP (HEalthy Lifestyles Project) for Youth with Mental Distress E-Health Intervention: Patient and Healthcare Impacts

PI: Dr. Pat Longmuir and Clare Gray

Study contact: [email protected]

Study contact full name: Pat Longmuir

Research Area: Mental Health

Who to contact regarding participating: Jenna Yaraskavitch at [email protected]

Lay Summary: In Ontario, youth mental health is in crisis: suicide/self-harm doubled 2019-2022; 75% of youth with mental illness do not get care; 28,000 youth wait 8-12 months for care. These serious delays prevent the best outcomes. Sleep, physical activity, or screen time habits impact mental wellbeing, self-esteem, and quality of life and are addressed with 95% of youth receiving mental health care. Working with over 70 youth experiencing mental distress, parents and clinicians, we developed virtual, asynchronous HELP (HEalthy Lifestyle Project) resources that uniquely focus on enabling lifestyle behaviour change through simple, step-by-step guidance (not just information that change is needed) available 24/7. We will invite eastern Ontario youth seeking mental health support (12-17 yrs) to join our study. Readiness for behaviour change, sleep, physical activity, screen time, emotional health and quality of life questionnaires will evaluate changes over six months. Youth will be randomly assigned to use the HELP resources immediately or after the six-month study visit to understand the impact of HELP use. Lifestyle support could be a low cost, enjoyable, and stigma-free option for initial support and enhanced readiness for treatment benefits.