Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 3066–3075 | Cite as

A Rural Youth Consumer Perspective of Technology to Enhance Face-to-Face Mental Health Services

  • Simone OrlowskiEmail author
  • Sharon Lawn
  • Gaston Antezana
  • Anthony Venning
  • Megan Winsall
  • Niranjan Bidargaddi
  • Ben Matthews
Original Paper


The imbalance between need and available resources with respect to youth mental ill-health has encouraged a growing body of literature around technology to support existing face-to-face services. However, this literature has not adequately investigated the perspective of youth as consumers and no data exists on the views of rural youth. In response to this gap, in-depth qualitative study investigated the perspectives of rural youth who were currently seeking help at a mental health service. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with a clinical sample of 10 young people (5 female), aged 16–22 years. Participants were recruited from two different mental health services located in two rural South Australian regions. Data were analysed via inductive thematic analysis. Results highlighted a young person’s desire for self-determination around their health and help-seeking within a service current environment that systematically subverts it. Overall, participants had long and complex histories of help-seeking associated with a history of isolation, disadvantage and trauma. A strong need for personal connection in the context of help-seeking was evident. Preferences for, and actual use of, the internet for mental healthcare existed on a continuum from no current (or future desire) to use technologies through to active interest in, and current use of, technologies as an adjunct to face-to-face care. Limited financial and infrastructural resourcing made it more difficult to access help online. Understanding and actively seeking out these views in design and implementation of technologies is in line with the current shift toward more consumer-focused and inclusive service design and delivery.


Youth Mental health Rural Technology Services 



This research is part of a collaborative project supported by the Young and Well CRC and in partnership with Flinders University and Country Health SA. The Young and Well CRC is established under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest declared.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone Orlowski
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sharon Lawn
    • 1
  • Gaston Antezana
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anthony Venning
    • 1
  • Megan Winsall
    • 1
    • 2
  • Niranjan Bidargaddi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ben Matthews
    • 3
  1. 1.Flinders Human Behaviour and Health Research Unit, Margaret Tobin Centre, FMCFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Young and Well, Cooperative Research CentreAbbotsfordAustralia
  3. 3.School of Information Technology and Electrical EngineeringUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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