Use of the Principles of Design Thinking to Address Limitations of Digital Mental Health Interventions for Youth: Viewpoint

J Med Internet Res. 2019 Jan 14;21(1):e11528. doi: 10.2196/11528.


Numerous reviews and meta-analyses have indicated the enormous potential of technology to improve the appeal, effectiveness, cost, and reach of mental health interventions. However, the promise of digital mental health interventions for youth has not yet been realized. Significant challenges have been repeatedly identified, including engagement, fidelity, and the lack of personalization. We introduce the main tenets of design thinking and explain how they can specifically address these challenges, with an entirely new toolbox of mindsets and practices. In addition, we provide examples of a new wave of digital interventions to demonstrate the applicability of design thinking to a wide range of intervention goals. In the future, it will be critical for scientists and clinicians to implement their scientific standards, methods, and review outlets to evaluate the contribution of design thinking to the next iteration of digital mental health interventions for youth.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; design thinking; e-mental health; youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health / standards*
  • Research Design
  • Technology / methods*