Scaling Single-Session Interventions to Bridge Gaps in Mental Healthcare Ecosystems
The discrepancy between need and access to mental health support is incontestable. This gap is particularly stark among adolescents: Up to 80% of youths with mental health needs go without services each year. Single-session interventions (SSIs) are well-positioned to rapidly increase access to evidence-based supports, precisely at moments of need. SSIs mitigate key treatment access-barriers: many are self-guided (offered online, requiring no therapist) or deliverable by lay health providers; completable from diverse locations; and 8-60 minutes in length, eliminating premature treatment dropout. SSIs are also effective. To date, >60 randomized trials have shown their capacity to reduce mental health problems, with sustained positive impacts up to 9 months later. In this talk, I will overview how my research lab, the Lab for Scalable Mental Health, has developed and evaluated a suite of free, evidence-based SSIs for adolescents with depression—and how we have leveraged social media, nonprofit, and government partnerships to disseminate our SSIs to >30,000 young people to date. In particular, drawing on findings from large-scale randomized and open trials, I will highlight our approaches to designing SSIs that promote agency, strengthen hope, and overcome access barriers to deliver evidence-based support to teens least likely to access traditional mental health care (e.g., LGBTQ+ and racial/ethnic minority young people).