A study of the preferences to e-mental health services among teenagers and its implications for effective mental health support

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


Social media has become an increasingly important tool of social interaction in which the users can actively shape their experience of usage (Michikyan & Suárez-Orozco, 2016). Social media users perceived information with higher authenticity and credibility than that of traditional media (de Vries, Gensler, and Leeflang, 2012). With the above characteristics, mental health intervention via electronic and mobile platform has been increasingly prominent for depression and anxiety, and other mental health issues (e.g. Beintner, Jacobi, & Taylor, 2012).

Due to the quarantine measures during the Covid-19 pandemic, the online psycho-therapy and mental health interventions are becoming more important than ever. E-mental health offers opportunities to overcome the obstacles of conventional psychological therapies. Despite the fact that there is an increasingly evidence base for the positive effect of e-mental health service, it is still unclear what factors influence individual’s decision on usage (Musiat, Goldstone, & Tarrier, 2014). Therefore, this study aims to 1) identify the dimensions used by teenagers to choose and evaluate e-mental health services; 2) determine the impact of emotional state, social media experience, and self-disclosure behaviors to their attitude and preferences to e-mental health services.

A multistage method is adopted in this study. In-depth interviews to twenty-one users of a mobile app of e-mental health support aged between 19 and 21 were first conducted to explore teenagers’ stressors, self-disclosure in social media and experience in e-mental health services. We then conducted a survey with a questionnaire developed from the interview results. We used convenience sampling and administered the questionnaire to 297 participants in a university, and 380 participants in a local secondary school in Hong Kong.

The results of factor analysis revealed several dimensions used by teenagers to evaluate e-mental health services. The salient dimensions were credibility of service provider, confidentiality of personal information, feedback quality and autonomy in modes of communication. The results also show that social media experience and self-disclosure behaviors had an impact on these evaluative dimensions. This study will inform e-mental health service providers regarding the features of e-mental health service platforms they should develop and improve in the future.

Beintner, I., Jacobi, C., & Taylor, C. B. (2012). Effects of an Internet-based prevention programme for eating disorders in the USA and Germany--a meta-analytic review. European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association, 20(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1002/erv.1130
De Vries, L., Gensler, S., & Leeflang, P. (2012). Popularity of Brand Posts on Brand Fan Pages: An Investigation of the Effects of Social Media Marketing. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 26(2), 83-91.
Michikyan, M., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2016). Adolescent Media and Social Media Use: Implications for Development. Journal of Adolescent Research, 31(4), 411-414.
Musiat, P., Goldstone, P., & Tarrier, N. (2014). Understanding the acceptability of e-mental health--attitudes and expectations towards computerised self-help treatments for mental health problems. BMC psychiatry, 14, 109. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-14-109
Wind, T. R., Rijkeboer, M., Andersson, G., & Riper, H. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic: The ‘black swan’for mental health care and a turning point for e-health. Internet interventions, 20.


ConferenceInternational Association for Media and Communication Research Conference (IAMCR 2022)
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'A study of the preferences to e-mental health services among teenagers and its implications for effective mental health support'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this