Toward Supporting the Mental Health of Underprivileged Youth Through Village-Driven Sociotechnical Systems
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
Children and adolescents from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds are significantly more likely to suffer from mental health problems. Underprivileged youth experience various stressors, including racism and exposure to violence, leading to more violence. Despite the wide adoption of mobile health platforms among the target population, the literature lacks evidence on using mobile health to support underprivileged youth. The community leaders of urban neighborhoods came together to share thoughts on how mobile solutions can best support the mental health needs of underprivileged children and adolescents. Through interviews with pastors, principals, and non-profit organization leaders, we show what is needed is a socio-technical solution that engages the community to create an ecosystem of village-driven support for youth mental health. We found a disparity between the outcomes the community is interested in improving (e.g., resilience, personal agency, mentorship) versus the clinical outcomes usually measured in mental health mobile health applications. The community desire to work on “village-driven” and engagement-based approaches rather than the intervention of clinical/treatments more common in existing mobile health solutions. We discuss implications for the requirements for village-driven socio-technical systems in supporting the mental health of underprivileged youth.