Health Sciences

Hi-tech help for troubled teens wins grant

Head of ACU’s School of Psychology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor John Gleeson has won the Campus Travel’s 2015 travel grant for using technology to help young people with mental health problems.

Professor Gleeson’s application stood out from 580 applications as an initiative that would have a positive and far-reaching impact on young people’s lives worldwide.

In his application he said his research group was “committed to helping young people afflicted by serious mental health problems by using cutting edge technology.”

“We have pioneered a highly novel web-based treatment system entitled Moderated Online Social Therapy (MOST). Within a single application, MOST integrates purpose-built online social networking, evidence-based online therapy, and online peer and expert moderation,” said in his application.

“MOST has been designed to enhance the accessibility and effectiveness of existing specialist youth mental health programs. We have made significant progress with three pilot studies completed and a single-site RCT currently underway. Results have been highly promising in terms of sustaining patient engagement, usability and safety.

“However, to have a global impact, we need to investigate if any benefits from MOST translate across cultural and geographical contexts. Researchers in Europe and North America are seeking to evaluate our MOST application for youth with psychosis, entitled Horyzons, in their local clinical populations.

“This coincides with a major expansion of early psychosis services internationally. Therefore, we plan to undertake collaborative design workshops with colleagues in North America and Europe to prepare a multi-centre clinical trial of Horyzons for youth recovering from early psychosis.

“The outcome from this anticipated RCT could significantly improve outcomes for thousands of young people worldwide.”