Seminar@TCD: Dr. Gavin Doherty – Mental Health Technology: Designing for Engagement

Large Conference Room, O’Reilly Institute, 3pm, 30th April 2012

Mental health difficulties are currently the leading cause of disability in developed countries (WHO metrics). While uptake of technology in the area has been slow, a variety of new technologies to support mental health treatment are emerging. Many of these aim to improve access to treatment and to provide more engaging and relevant treatment to clients. However, technologies which suffer from usability problems or which fail to take into account the real needs of clients and the context in which treatment is provided are unlikely to succeed. In this talk I will discuss the unique challenges posed by this domain and the different ways we can use technology to help. I will explore the issues by presenting our experience of development of an online intervention.

Online mental health interventions can benefit people experiencing a range of psychological difficulties, but attrition is a major problem in real-world deployments. I discuss strategies to reduce attrition, and present SilverCloud, a platform designed to provide more engaging online experiences. I present the results of a practice-based clinical study of an online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programme for depression. I discuss strategies for design in this area and consider how the quantitative and qualitative results contribute towards our understanding of engagement.

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