Understanding the Mental Health Needs and Technological Treatment Implications for Vulnerable Youth: A Focus Group with Practitioners

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The Ohio State University

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Although all youth witnessed the extreme shift in exposure to negative risks and experiences over the past century, a particular category of youth witnesses the impacts at a higher rate. This category is vulnerable youth, and includes youth who are homeless, maltreated, in foster care, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning (LGBTQ+) or Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). Vulnerable youth disproportionately experience mental health and wellbeing challenges. Literature shows that practitioners working with this population have a critical role in mitigating those challenges through technological services and resources. To explore these challenges and technological treatment implications, a total of six practitioners completed a virtual focus group. Transcripts were analyzed using content analysis. Participants shared challenges vulnerable youth face to meet basic, social and emotional, educational, technological and mental health needs. They reported limitations to in-person mental health services. Technology use, specifically applications (apps), can provide support to vulnerable youth and address the perceived challenges to meet various needs. More research is required to understand vulnerable youth's mental health and wellbeing and best practices for utilizing technology into youth mental health services.



vulnerable youth, mental health, wellbeing, technology