MORE than 1.5 million mobile phone apps and web-based programs should be used to help a generation of young people tackle mental health issues, according to Michael Carr-Gregg.
The respected adolescent psychologist said the fact that every young person had a smartphone or iPad had to be taken advantage of by professionals when it came to addressing mental health needs.
Dr Carr-Gregg spoke at the first of four workshops and forums hosted by the University of Tasmania Department of Rural Health at the Launceston General Hospital yesterday.
He discussed evidence-based apps and programs that Tasmanian professionals such as psychologists and social and youth workers could use to treat, diagnose and provide information on particularly prevalent issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders.
``This adds a level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness which is really important,'' Dr Carr-Gregg said.
``This is terribly exciting, particularly for rural and regional areas where it's hard to get access, and to me that's so exciting because we've got a workforce shortage, and so using evidence-based programs that can make a difference to the psychological wellbeing of young people, the statistics really shocked them.''
According to the latest research, 20 per cent of young Australian men did not think life was worth living and the number of young women requiring hospitalisation for self-harm had increased by 50 per cent since 2000.
He said the use of apps and programs was almost a necessity these days because of the prevalence of devices, the vast breadth of information available, their cheapness and accessibility 24-7 and a level of anonymity, in that you would disclose something on an app that you wouldn't say in person.
Dr Carr-Gregg said an example of a web-based program helping people to reduce and kick a cannabis habit was Clear Your Vision.
He said it was undergoing random trials and had so far been found to be as effective as face-to-face intervention.