Thursday, 13 June, 2024: A team of researchers at University College Dublin and the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics at UCD have secured funding to build a Digital Youth Mental Health network in Europe and beyond, as part of the EU’s COST Action funding stream. 

The YouthDMH COST Action will be led by Dr Andreas Balaskas and Dr David Coyle and will run over four years, with the aim of supporting inclusive and innovative research on technology-enabled youth mental health. It will address issues including online help-seeking, information and misinformation; the role of social media; and the potential impact of emerging AI technology on mental health support. The project will emphasise the direct involvement of young people in the design of new technologies. It will also emphasise collaboration across disciplines and between academia and industry. The Action will provide policy guidance and recommendations for government, civil organisations and funding bodies.

Project co-lead Andreas Balaskas, research fellow at UCD School of Computer Science and a Postdoc with the Insight SFI Research Centre explains the goal of the network: “YouthDMH will consider how we can support mental health from the point at which young people first become aware of the difficulties, through to the delivery of large-scale evidence-based interventions. It will do so in a way that ensures young people and marginalised communities have a voice in envisaging the future.” 

Dr Coyle commented, “Our core aim is to understand how technology can complement and integrate with existing services and help to ensure that more young people have access to appropriate mental health support.”

COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is a funding organisation for research and innovation networks. COST ‘Actions’ are interdisciplinary bottom-up research networks that bring researchers and innovators together to investigate a topic of their choice for four years. The success of the YouthDMH proposal is particularly noteworthy given the competitive landscape this year - the success rate for applications was 11.5%.