Wednesday, 29 June 2022

    Teens to be tracked

    Up to 10,000 Australian teenagers will have their phone data and GPS location monitored for the next five years in an attempt to track how mental health issues develop in adolescence, WA Today reports.

    The year 8 participants in the ambitious Black Dog Institute study will interact with game-based apps, have their movement and location tracked by smartphone sensors, and be asked specific questions about their state of mind, including whether they have contemplated committing suicide.

    Researchers will also collect passive data from sensors on the phone, including tilt sensors typically used by exercise apps. The purpose was to look at whether the students’ movement rhythms change at any point – such as a drop in sports activity – and if that correlated with the emergence of mental health problems.

    Kate Maston, the study’s senior program manager and a clinical psychologist, said the aim was to understand how and why mental health problems develop and road-test prevention strategies.

    “Adolescence is the peak time for the onset of mental health problems, which is why that is where our focus is,” Ms Maston said.

    “If you give intervention before a large majority of young people will go on to develop mental health problems, you can essentially inoculate some of those young people from developing mental health problems at all.”

    The study is recruiting participants from more than 174 high schools, mostly in NSW across the public, Catholic and independent sectors, for the so-called Future Proofing Study.

    The information collected by the researchers is confidential except when there is disclosure of suicidal thoughts or self harm, when the school counsellor or parents would be notified.

    The study had already recruited 400 then-year 8 students in 2019 and a further 1800 in 2020, while the bulk of the students would be recruited this year.


    Teens to have phone GPS, data monitored to track onset of mental health (WA Today)


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