Digitally mediated service provision for children's social, emotional and mental health: key indicators for evaluation

Rural Remote Health. 2023 Jan;23(1):7747. doi: 10.22605/RRH7747. Epub 2023 Jan 17.


Introduction: Remote delivery of assessment, consultation and therapy via digital communication technologies in mental health services is important in rural locations, and has rapidly increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: This UK-based research investigated what factors should be considered in the development and evaluation of digitally mediated service provision for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs using two approaches: (1) a focus group with five young people (aged 16-19 years) and (2) an online survey with 18 parents/carers of primary-age children with SEMH difficulties.

Results: Getting help quickly was most important to both young people and parents/carers when accessing services, with having a say in their care of equal importance to young people but not parents/carers. Analysis identified participants' preferences and perceived positives and negatives of digitally mediated service provision.

Conclusion: Digitally mediated service provision should be timely and patient-centred to be considered acceptable by young people with SEMH needs and their parents/carers. Evaluations should include comprehensive measures of service efficiency and service user experience to better understand the benefits of digital mediation.

Keywords: UK; delivery of health care; healthcare quality indicators; mental health services; rural health services; telemedicine; child health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19*
  • Child
  • Child Health
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Pandemics