A clinical trial has reported the benefits of a text message-based parenting program for adolescent mental health.
Globally, adolescent mental health is becoming increasingly recognized as a significant issue. In response to the National Mental Health Commission’s call for further investment in mobile health services that will ultimately reduce the demand for expensive mental health services.
Since parents are a vital part of adolescents’ lives, a recent study assessed efforts to help parents by providing a text messaging program called ‘MyTeen’. According to the study, “MyTeen is a tailored program of text messages (≤160 characters in length) with evidence-based parenting tips for establishing and maintaining positive relationships with adolescents; strategies to increase adolescent autonomy; advice about adolescent development, family functioning, and parental self-care; information to help parents recognize depressive symptoms and understand treatment options; and links to evidence-based support and informational resources.”
The clinical trial included 221 parents or caregivers of adolescents aged between 10 and 15. The parents and caregivers each received a daily text message from the MyTeen program for a four-week period. When compared with a control group of parents who did not receive MyTeen messages, but who did receive ‘usual care’, the parents who received text messages reported improvements in parental competence and improvements in communication with their adolescent children, in addition to reductions in parental distress.
According to the researchers, “This text messaging program for parents of adolescents appears to be an effective and feasible way to facilitate the implementation and delivery of evidence-based information to populations that are not easily reached with other intervention modalities. The program can be easily scaled up for delivery as an early preventive intervention and may represent a less expensive option for service delivery.”
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD
Chu JTW, Wadham A, Jiang Y, et al. Effect of MyTeen SMS-Based Mobile Intervention for Parents of Adolescents: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. Published online September 11, 20192(9):e1911120. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.11120
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