An Innovative Approach to Improving Young People’s Mental Health

23.03.2020

Mental illness in early life can have a devastating effect on the future of young people, which in turn influences the mental wealth of societies around the globe. With over half the world’s population living in urban areas, decision makers often face significant challenges when designing effective mental health programs and resources allocation. To address this, CSART and partners, including Swiss TPH, were awarded CHF 1.4 million by Fondation Botnar to develop a tool that uses computer simulation to guide the investment in mental health services for young people.

A unique approach harnessing computer simulation will provide insights on the efficiency of different resources allocations for mental health services for young people.

Mental illness in early life can have a devastating effect on the social, educational and economic future of young people, which in turn influences the mental wealth of countries across the globe. With over half the world's population living in urban areas, decision makers, who are often constrained by limited resources, face significant challenges to design effective mental health programs and effectively allocate their resources.

To address this, CSART and partners, including Swiss TPH, were awarded CHF 1.4 million by the Fondation Botnar to develop an advanced decision analysis within a monitoring and evaluation infrastructure to strengthen mental health systems for young people in Bogota, Colombia, informing decision makers and researchers about the efficiency of different investment scenarios.

Interactive decision support tool

The research program focuses on bringing together the best available evidence, data, expert and local knowledge to develop an interactive decision support tool, also known as a computer simulation model. To inform strategic planning, the tool will be embedded in an ongoing monitoring and evaluation cycle to ensure a robust continuous improvement framework.

In addition to the development of a computer simulation model to inform strategic decision-making at the population level, the research program includes customisation and piloting of a youth mental healthcare coordination platform, which has already been successfully implemented by the University of Sydney in Australia. This will calibrate the simulation enabling service providers to better connect and coordinate care at an individual level as well as better tailoring services to young people.

The role of Swiss TPH

Swiss TPH is mainly responsible for monitoring and evaluating the participatory workshops, which is made up of the relevant stakeholders involved in the mental health provision in Bogota, Colombia. The aim is to ensure that value is added to each stakeholder represented within the research program, and that this value is then translated throughout the entire program, contributing to the overall success and sustainability of the decision making tool.

"We are excited for this opportunity to bring our wide range of skills and expertise to this project. The collaborative work across our units at Swiss TPH is a fantastic opportunity to enhance our contribution on monitoring and evaluation, as well as language skills and knowledge of the cultural context. For instance, the experience from Florence Secula working with young people will be instrumental in this project," said Salvador Camacho, Project Leader at Swiss TPH. "We are grateful to be collaborating with a diverse group of highly-skilled partners who are working together to develop computer simulation models, which together will build a collective understanding of what works and what does not work in any given context, before investing valuable resources."

Dr. Salvador Camacho, Dr. sc. hum. PH, MscIH, MBA

Project Leader, Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeitende/Post-Doc (SHIS 530) +41 61 284 83 02
salvador.camacho@swisstph.ch