© Leandro Neumann Ciuffo
© Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

UCD to lead effort to tackle mental health

The University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland, has been chosen to lead a European network to develop new technologies for the advancement of mental health services for young people.

The new UCD-led network will be called Team (technology-enabled mental health for young people) and is funded under Horizon 2020’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions initiative.

The network has been founded following a number of international studies which concluded that many people experiencing mental health difficulties do not have access to appropriate support.

Research suggests that 50% of mental disorders emerge by 14 years of age and untreated difficulties at a young age can triple the likelihood of further difficulties in later life.

Team aims to bring together a multi-disciplinary network of mental health experts, computer scientists, designers and policy experts from five countries: Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Spain and the UK.

Over the course of the four-year endeavour, it will provide a doctoral training and research platform to train a new generation of researchers who can help to deliver more effective, affordable and accessible mental health services to young people.

The Team network organisers said it will also focus on the design, development and evaluation of new technology-enabled mental health services on a rapid scale.

Dr David Coyle, Team project co-ordinator said: “We are not going to address all of the challenges in youth mental health in just four years. But we do aim to train a new generation of researchers, with a unique combination of skills, who will be at the forefront of this challenge in the coming decades.”

He added: “Technology can play an important role in improving mental health services, but only if we get the details right.

“It was critical that Team had an appropriate balance of mental health experts, computer scientists and designers. Throughout the project we will work in close partnership with mental health services and with people with experiences of mental health difficulties.”