Adaptation, Innovation and Co-Production: Meeting the Mental Wellbeing Needs of a Digital Generation

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In the aftermath of a global health pandemic, youth mental health is a public-health emergency. The acceleration of digital technologies, catalysed by COVID-19, has seen the growing significance of online support and social media for promoting health behaviours. This exploratory study utilised a participatory-action research (PAR) design to investigate adolescents’ (N = 10;16–18 year old) perceptions and experiences of social media with respect to mental-wellbeing content. Data were collected using a focus-group method. Young people (YP) also evaluated digital resources adapted from the Super Skills for Life (SSL-A) intervention. Thematic analysis elicited three thematic categories: young people’s relationship with social media, perceptions and experiences of support
pathways, and cultivating mental-health and wellbeing provision for a digital generation. Findings revealed that YP were discerning digital citizens and willing to use technologies for support. Although exposure to social-media images and videos can convey social norms and shape normative perceptions of healthy wellbeing, mental-health literacy was a critical factor prompting change.
Future co-production research is needed to design, develop, and evaluate digital resources adapted from evidence-based programmes to contribute to hybrid models of mental-wellbeing provision that can offer YP timely and appropriate support and a choice of delivery modalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 447–464.
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2023


  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Digital technology
  • Super Skills for Life
  • Social Media
  • Participatory Action Research

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