Dr Sarah Hetrick to present on treatment or prevention of depression of young people

Dr Sarah Hetrick, Senior Research Fellow, Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health will present at the 16th International Mental Health Conference at QT Hotel, Gold Coast 12-14 August 2015.

Dr Sarah HetrickDr Hetrick is a clinical psychologist and Senior Research Fellow in the Centre of Excellence, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, Melbourne University and headspace The National Youth Mental Health Foundation.

Within the Centre of Excellence she leads the area of knowledge translation and exchange and holds an NHMRC training fellowship, the focus of which is on evidence implementation for youth depression. She devised and leads a major initiative called ‘evidence mapping in youth mental health”, the end product of which is located on the headspace website. She leads and provides methodological consultation to a large number of systematic review teams, and is the lead author on a number of Cocharne and non-Cochrane reviews about interventions to prevent and treat young people with depression. She is an Editor with the Cochrane Depression Anxiety and Neurosis Group, with an international profile in Cochrane Systematic Review Methodology.

Abstract Title: Serious games for the treatment or prevention of depression: A systematic review

Abstract Overview

Background: Depressive disorders affect up to 25% of young people by the age of 18. Ensuring evidence based treatments are delivered is critical but many young people do not receive such treatment. New media offers promise in terms of expanding the reach of evidence based interventions to those who need them. Australia’s Fourth National Mental Health Plan contains the action item to expand and better utilise innovative approaches to service delivery including telephone and e-mental health services.

While there is a growing body of evidence that shows computerised or online interventions (particularly CBT) can be effective in preventing and treating depression in young people, there are challenges in maximising the uptake of computerised therapies. The incorporation of gaming elements is one approach that may address this. Serious games (computerised interventions which utilise gaming for serious purposes) have been shown to increase motivation for learning, improve attention and problem solving and been shown to be effective for improving knowledge and adherence to treatment in conditions such as asthma, diabetes and cancer. We aimed to review the evidence regarding serious games for depression.

Methods: We undertook electronic searches of Medline, PsycInfo and EMBASE using terms relevant to computer games and depression. We included full-text articles published in English in peer-reviewed literature since 2000, where the intervention was designed to treat or prevent depression and which included pre-and post-intervention measurement of depression.

Results: Nine studies relating to a total of six interventions met inclusion criteria. Most studies were small and were carried out by the developers of the programs. All were tested with young people (ages between 9 and 25 years). Most reported promising results with some positive impact on depression although one universal program had mixed results.

Conclusions: Serious gaming interventions show promise for depression, however evidence is currently very limited.

For more information on the 16th International Mental Health Conference please visit the website here.

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