There is a substantial need for youth electronic mental health (e-mental health) services. In addressing this need, our team has developed a novel moderated online social therapy intervention called enhanced moderated online social therapy (MOST+). MOST+ integrates real-time, clinician-delivered Web chat counseling, interactive user-directed online therapy, expert and peer moderation, and private and secure peer-to-peer social networking. MOST+ has been designed to give young people immediate, 24-hour access to anonymous, evidence-based, and short-term mental health care.
The primary aims of this pilot study were to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and safety of the intervention. Secondary aims were to assess prepost changes in key psychosocial outcomes and collect qualitative data for future intervention refinement.
MOST+ will be embedded within eheadspace, an Australian youth e-mental health service, and will be evaluated via an uncontrolled single-group study. Approximately 250 help-seeking young people (16-25 years) will be progressively recruited to the intervention from the eheadspace home page over the first 4 weeks of an 8-week intervention period. All participants will have access to evidence-based therapeutic content and integrated Web chat counseling. Additional access to moderated peer-to-peer social networking will be granted to individuals for whom it is deemed safe and appropriate, through a three-tiered screening process. Participants will be enrolled in the MOST+ intervention for 1 week, with the option to renew their enrollment across the duration of the pilot. Participants will complete a survey at enrollment to assess psychological well-being and other mental health outcomes. Additional assessment will occur following account deactivation (ie, after participant has opted not to renew their enrollment, or at trial conclusion) and will include an online survey and telephone interview assessing psychological well-being and experience of using MOST+.
Recruitment for the study commenced in October 2017. We expect to have initial results in March 2018, with more detailed qualitative and quantitative analyses to follow.
This is the first Australia-wide research trial to pilot an online social media platform merging real-time clinical support, expert and peer moderation, interactive online therapy, and peer-to-peer social networking. The importance of the project stems from the need to develop innovative new models for the efficient delivery of responsive evidence-based online support to help-seeking young people. If successful, this research stands to complement and enhance e-mental health services in Australia.