Bridging the Digital Disconnect

Using technology to support young people’s mental health needs // PROJECT COMPLETED

This research will work with health professionals, youth workers, teachers and parents in order to better understand the existing knowledge of youth mental health and the use of technology among these adult ‘gatekeepers’. In turn, an online training program will be developed to increase mental health literacy and digital literacy among adults who can support young people’s mental health needs.

The objective of this research is to facilitate the promotion of positive mental health, help-seeking and help-getting by addressing the ‘digital disconnect’ between young people and those adults best placed to support young people in relation to their respective perceptions and use of technology in everyday life.


  • Explore adult gatekeepers’ willingness to use technology to support their work with young people;
  • Determine the needs of gatekeepers in relation to the use of technology to support young people;
  • Develop and test an online training program addressing ‘young people, technology and mental health’ that is targeted at gatekeepers and involves young people as educators and supporters in the delivery of the training; and
  • Develop and test a template for online community building between and among various groups of gatekeepers, whereby those adults that care about, support and work with young people can communicate with and support each other (e.g. moderated gatekeepers forum).


A qualitative approach involving in-depth focus group interviews is the most appropriate method to learn about existing capacity and perceived learning need among adult gatekeepers. Other methods to be employed include purposive sampling, data collection, transcription and review, and whole group thematic analysis.

Outcomes and Impacts

  • Literature review-based report;
  • Qualitative data on the ‘digital disconnect’ between young people and gatekeepers;
  • Young person-supported, online training programs that improve adult gatekeepers’ understanding of their mental health and the effective use of technology to support mental health;
  • Online community for adult stakeholders trying to make sense of young people, technology and wellbeing; and,
  • Evaluation report of the effectiveness of Internet-based resources as mental health promotion interventions for young people.

Youth Involvement

Young people will be represented on the Project Advisory Group, recruited through the Ireland Youth Advisory Network. The online training resource developed for the adult gatekeeper groups will be tested with focus groups of young people recruited through the organisations involved as research partners.

The online training program will involve members of the Youth Advisory Network who will guide trainees through a series of modules covering youth mental health literacy and online communications skills.

Young people will be directly involved in the evaluation of efficacy in the research to determine whether there is an improvement among them in their sense of being supported by the adults they work with and engage on a daily basis.

Related Publications

Chambers D and Murphy F. Learning to Reach Out: Young people, mental health literacy and the Internet. Inspire Ireland Foundation, Dublin 2011. Available at:

Related Links

Participating Organisations

Project Contributors

Project Coordinator

Derek Chambers
Director of Programmes and Policy

Project Duration:3 Years


Bridging the Digital Disconnect

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