UCD leads €4m research to improve access to mental health services for young people

Posted November 23, 2016

  • UCD will lead €4m research network across five countries
  • Programme aims to develop new technologies to enable better access to mental health services

UCD will lead a new €4m research and training network focused on developing new technologies to improve access to mental health services for young people.

TEAM (Technology Enabled Mental Health for Young People) is a 4-year Innovation Training Network (ITN) that will bring together a multidisciplinary team from five EU countries including Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Spain and the UK. The network will be funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme under the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions initiative.

Research from the US National Institute for Mental Health has found that 50% of mental health issues emerge by the age of 14 but decades can pass between the onset of symptoms and the beginning of treatment. Untreated difficulties at a young age also triple the likelihood of further difficulties in life.

The overall aim of TEAM is to train a new generation of researchers to help deliver more effective, affordable and accessible mental health services for young people. The network will also focus on the design, development and evaluation of new technology-enabled mental health services. 

TEAM will include specialists in mental health, computer science, design and policy. It will provide a unique doctoral training and research platform for 15 PhD students.

“We are not going to address all of the challenges in youth mental health in just four years but we do aim to train a new generation of researchers, with a unique combination of skills, who will be at the forefront of this challenge in the coming decades,” said Dr David Coyle, UCD School of Computer Science and TEAM project co-ordinator.

“Technology can play an important role in improving mental health services, but only if we get the details right. It was critical that TEAM had an appropriate balance of mental health experts, computer scientists and designers. Throughout the project we will work in close partnership with mental health services and with people with experiences of mental health difficulties.”

Pictured: Dr David Coyle, TEAM project co-ordinator, and a researcher in human computer interaction at UCD School of Computer Science.

TEAM will also collaborate closely with additional partners including national mental health charities and innovative technology companies.

The research programme is built around four key themes: assessment, prevention, treatment and policy. It aims to deliver new technologies that can support rapid, early and large-scale assessment, prevention and treatment of mental health difficulties in young people. 

TEAM is led by University College Dublin and involves nine partners. These include four universities (UCD, Technical University of Denmark, Technical University Vienna, University of Glasgow); two university hospitals (Medical University Vienna, Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen (Region Hovedstaden); two not-for-profit organisations (The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, ReachOut Ireland Ltd); and one industry research laboratory (Telefonica Alpha).

By: Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations