When it comes to information and services for mental health – adolescents and young people often seek support online. With the increasing global attention to the youth mental health crisis, UNICEF sought to develop practical online solutions for helping “connect kids to care”, thereby reducing the tremendous gaps in access to services and support faced by many young people.
Usupport, a practical digital mental health platform for adolescents and youth is set to be launched later this year by UNICEF in Kazakhstan in collaboration with the government, civil society and private sector partners. The eMental Health International Collaborative (eMHIC) was an important source of inspiration for building usupport.
eMHIC and UNICEF’s Europe and Central Asia regional team have been in conversation since 2018 and have over the past four years fostered a substantive dialogue around e-Mental health, discussing how digital tools can be used to improve mental health care access and equity for children and youth around the world. eMHIC is a source of international experts in digital mental health who can provide leadership for key international initiatives such as for example, the UNICEF-led usupport programme to be launched in Kazakhstan.
“Learning about the work eMHIC has been doing was an exciting discovery” says Dr. Nina Ferencic, Senior Adviser on Young People’s Health, Development and Participation at UNICEF. “I remember waking up in the middle of the night during COVID lockdowns to connect from Geneva to eMHIC conferences and hear experts and leaders from all over the world, passionately discussing how to implement e-Mental health programmes and work together to advance mental health innovations and access across borders.”
Dr. Victor Ladele, Innovation Manager at UNICEF commented, “Collaboration is critical to success when it comes to improving global mental health access. There is excellent expertise at eMHIC which understood what we need for this project to happen, and connected us with the perfect people to allow this mental health initiative to be delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
eMHIC is the world’s peak body for digital mental health, and promotes international collaboration as a key method to efficiently develop eMental health implementation globally. “Why reinvent the wheel when we can learn from each other on what is working in other places” says CEO of eMHIC, Prof. Anil Thapliyal. “Through authentic and meaningful relationships, we can all work together to help improve access to effective e-mental health support when and where people need it, wherever they are in the world.”