Michelle Blanchard, Senior Research Officer, Inspire
Foundation and PhD Candidate, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre,
Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne
Last Monday 11th October 2010, I was proud to have been invited
to speak about my PhD research at the launch of the Hume
Region Early Psychosis Service's new website for young people.
Hume REPS as they are known provide early intervention
services for young people living with a psychosis across northern
Victoria. The website (www.humereps.org.au) aims to educate
young people and those who care for them about psychosis and
demystify the process of accessing help through the Hume REPS
service. The Hume REPS team, in particular Jill Michalski and
Caroline French, have been passionate advocates of the use of
technologies to engage young people in improving their mental
Throughout my research one recurrent issue has been the cost of
developing high quality, locally specific, online resources for
young people and those who care for them.
The site that the team at Hume REPS have developed has overcome
this challenge. It provides locally relevant content in a
high quality format that appeals to young people. The Hume
REPS website (www.humereps.org.au), includes evidence-based
information for young people and those who care for them on the
nature of psychosis, drawing heavily on resources produced by
Australia's leading authority on early intervention in psychosis -
Orygen Youth Health. It provides detailed information for the
youth health workforce on how to detect psychosis in young people
early on and how to refer to appropriate help. It also
supports young people to better understand how psychosis might
affect them or a friend.
What is particularly striking about this website, is the way in
which it has capitalised on young people's affinity with social
networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to present text
based content in a new and exciting way, without establishing a
presence in these environments . The site presents the
stories of 16 year old Karly, TAFE student Darren, 23 year old
Michael and Michael's family in a new and innovative way.
Karly's story is told through a series of 'Facebook' style
status updates exploring her experience as someone starting to
experience mood disturbances. The development of Darren's
psychosis, brought on by his use of cannabis, is tracked through a
series of 'Twitter' style updates in 140 characters or less.
Michael's story is communicated through emails from his
girlfriend Susie to her friend Judy, while the experience of his
family is explored through the transcript of telephone calls
between his Mum and their GP. Simple, cost-effective and
How do you think we could present information to young people in
more innovative and creative ways?