Jo Robinson on Suicide Prevention in the Digital Age: Digital Ecology Podcast Take Over Talking HealthTech!

Talking HealthTech

Jo Robinson on Suicide Prevention in the Digital Age: Digital Ecology Podcast Take Over Talking HealthTech!

January 8, 2024

Jo Robinson on Suicide Prevention in the Digital Age: Digital Ecology Podcast Take Over Talking HealthTech!

During the holiday season, Pete and the team from Talking HealthTech are taking a well earned break, so while they’re away, the hosts of various shows from within the Talking HealthTech Podcast Network are sharing some of their favourite episodes from their own podcasts!

This episode is brought to you by Victoria Betton from Digital Ecology Podcast.

About the Digital Ecology Podcast

The Digital Ecology podcast creates a window into the backstory of technology adoption in the UK’s healthcare system. Through interviews with experts in the field, we shine a light on the inner workings of digital health and uncover a world of complexity and challenge. We are in the foothills of technology adoption, where the hype doesn’t always match the reality.

About the Episode

In this episode of Digital Ecology, I speak with guest Jo Robinson, Professor and Head of Suicide Research at Orygen, a leading youth mental health service in Melbourne, Australia. Jo Robinson leads research programs on suicide prevention, specifically focusing on reducing suicide risk among young people.

Our conversation centres around Jo’s work with the CHATsafe intervention, a project focused on safe online communication about suicide and self-harm. Two pilot studies were conducted to test the effectiveness of the intervention, with the first study assessing young people’s confidence, skills, and willingness to communicate about suicide online, as well as adherence to CHATsafe guidelines.

Results from the initial campaign were promising, showing that the intervention was safe, feasible, and effective in increasing young people’s confidence and willingness to intervene against suicide online. A second study targeted individuals who were bereaved by or exposed to suicide, producing similar positive results and further confirming the safety, feasibility, and potential effectiveness of CHATsafe.

At the time of recording, a randomised control trial is underway to test the universal campaign, with the goal of providing care and support to young people in the environment where they already spend time, potentially overcoming barriers to seeking professional help.

One of the key aspects of Jo’s work is the emphasis on co-design and youth participation. Bespoke co-design workshops were conducted to ensure that the content of the CHATsafe guidelines meets the specific needs of different subpopulations, including LGBTQIA+ youth, South Sudanese communities, and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander groups.

The development of the guidelines involved input from young people from the beginning, and the content was co-designed with their input. The resources aim to educate adults about online safety tools and functionality, empowering them to support young people in having safe conversations about suicide.

Throughout the episode, we discuss the effectiveness of social media as a tool for mental health support, the need for investment in mental health services, and the importance of addressing gaps between awareness campaigns and available care. We also touch on the challenges regarding access to healthcare for mental health and suicide prevention in Australia and the UK, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Join me and Jo Robinson in this episode as they delve into the world of digital mental health interventions and explore the potential for social media to play a role in suicide prevention among young people. 

Check out more episodes from Digital Ecology Podcast:

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