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New app to be designed to help caregivers of children and adolescents with mental health disorders

A new smartphone app will soon be in the works to help support the caregivers of children and adolescents with mental health and addiction disorders, thanks to a $105,600 grant from Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. 

An upcoming research project is aiming to create an accessible, innovative and community-based smartphone app, in which caregivers can find reliable information, improve social support and connectedness, and enhance well-being.

While caregivers are the backbone of the health care system by providing unpaid care, they often receive very little support and bear an increasing amount of distress. Caregivers often report experiencing a higher level of depressive and anxiety symptoms, adverse physical health, and decreased quality of life. With growing evidence that children’s and adolescents’ well-being is significantly affected by their caregivers’ mental health, the well-being of caregivers should be placed as a top priority in improving the quality of care for their children. 

Dr. Hua Li, a University of Saskatchewan (U of S) College of Nursing assistant professor, and Dr. Lorraine Holtslander, a U of S College of Nursing professor, are leading the two-year pilot project to develop the app, which they believe has great potential to impact the health of Saskatchewan residents.

“When caregivers remain healthy and productive in their roles, this has an immediate impact on health care costs, quality of life for both caregivers and their children, and the health of communities,” explained Li.

Dr. Hua Li (RN, BSN, MPH, PhD)

An interdisciplinary research team, consisting of researchers, patient and family advisory members, and health care providers, will collaborate with the Mental Health and Addiction Services in Saskatoon and a local application-developer, Refresh Enterprises, to develop and test a smartphone app. The app will have three main functions to support caregivers, including supplying reliable information, providing help to navigate the local health care system, as well as offering a platform for social connection and peer support.

Through focus group discussions and quantitative measures, the perspectives of study participants will provide insight into the caregivers’ needs. The app will also be tested and evaluated by the caregivers for functionality, feasibility and effectiveness.

“The goal of this research is to enhance outcomes and quality of life for caregivers of children and adolescents with mental health and addictions disorders, and therefore improving outcomes and quality of care for these children and adolescents,” Li said.

Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation has partnered with Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation on our Research Grant Program, disbursing $345,600 in 2020 for innovative new maternal and pediatric research projects.

Donate today to continue to help our province’s medical community conduct vital research for Saskatchewan kids and families.

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