There’s An App For That: Context, Assumptions, Possibilities And Potential Pitfalls In The Use Of Digital Technologies To Address Refugee Mental Health

Ruth Goodman, Linda Tip, Kate Cavanagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The number of refugees is increasing (UNHCR, 2019). The experiences of refugees are linked to impaired mental health yet, this population faces barriers to accessing mental health support (Shannon et al., 2016). Digital mental health interventions are increasingly recognised as an avenue for overcoming these barriers (WHO, 2017). The present paper begins by introducing the area of digital approaches to mental health and developments in this area targeted at refugee populations specifically. We then take a step back to look at the wider picture of refugee mental health and technology. Drawing on Toyama’s Law of Amplification (2011; 2015) – that successful technical interventions amplify the intent and the capacity of the people involved - we discuss the importance of context, exploring the assumptions, possibilities and potential pitfalls in the use of digital technologies for addressing refugee mental health. We conclude that by collaborating with refugee populations, placing them at the centre of the design process for digital mental health interventions, we stand the greatest chance of creating the most useful tools.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfeaa082
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Refugee Studies following peer review. The version of record [insert complete citation information here] is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/feaa082

Keywords

  • refugees
  • mental health
  • Digital health interventions

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