Past project

Active ingredients: understanding remote measurement technologies to improve depression in young people

Looking at devices such as smartphones and wearable sensors or digital applications that really make a difference in preventing, treating, or managing youth anxiety and depression.

Project overview

The Wellcome active ingredients initiative is looking at interventions that really make a difference in preventing, treating, or managing youth anxiety and depression. This particular research project will be focusing on understanding remote measurement technologies. 

Remote measurement technologies (RMT) are devices such as smartphones and wearable sensors or digital applications that can be used capture changes in biology, behaviour, and environment that are relevant to mental health. It is hoped that key insights into factors such as activity, wellbeing, sleep and diet will guide us towards prevention and better treatments for depression. 

Project details

Depression affects millions of people and generally starts in youth. RMT have been suggested as a solution to improve the monitoring, detection and treatment of depression, particularly in young people as the “smartphone generation”. However, with digital mental health becoming increasingly common, there is a danger the use of RMT may surge ahead of the evidence base.

This research aimed to understand the ways, for whom, in what contexts and why RMT may or may not work for depression in young people.  

The McPin Foundation are working to ensure the delivery of quality research informed from a lived experience perspective and have recruited two young co-researchers.

Our co-researchers will be investigating a range of RMT , looking to use their own knowledge and experience to support a realist review of available evidence as well as aiding the interpretation and analysis of how effective these technologies are. 

The co-researchers will have the opportunity to share learning and explore how remote technologies may relate to other identified ‘active ingredients’. 

The RMT evidence review has been completed by our co-researchers and the team led by Annie Walsh from Kings College London who then shared the final report draft with our YPAG for their feedback. The YPAG have also supported Annie to disseminate the results by helping to create the below video and infographic.

And you can read an overview of the project thanks to the National Elf Service here. 

Reflections from a co-researcher: 

“I heard about the opportunity to be involved in the RMT project from being a part of the McPin Foundation’s Young People’s Advisory Group, where Annie joined one of our meetings and asked us to read through and give any feedback we may have on the project proposal. I thought the project sounded important due to its focus on technology and new ways to improve mental health and wellbeing for young people. When the opportunity to become a co-researcher on the project arose, I was really interested in the post and was delighted to find my application to work on the project was accepted. Despite the project having a fairly short timeframe, I learnt a lot from working on the project, such as how a research study of this kind works, what a realist synthesis is and how to do a realist synthesis. Therefore, I gained valuable experience and new skills and knowledge from working on the project and it is therefore an example of why it’s important to involve young people in mental health research.” 

Georgia Naughton, McPin Foundation 

 The future of mental health science: 

Dion Agnuza, Mental Health Lived Experience Advisor at Wellcome says:   

“The proposed active ingredients increased my confidence in the future of mental healthcare – a future that takes individual differences on what works best into consideration.”  

 Find out more about Wellcome’s mental health programme here. 

 Get in touch with [email protected] for more information. 

Work with us

We are always excited to hear from others who want to collaborate on mental health research. From delivering peer research to helping you with public involvement strategies and providing training, get in touch to chat.