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STARS-Seattle: Addressing refugee and immigrant youth mental health in the time of COVID-19 usng a digital psychological intervention

Youth are at particular risk of high rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicide, and migration stressors can increase this risk among refugee and immigrant youth. These groups face a myriad of barriers to care: more than 75% of severely depressed youth in the US receive no or inadequate treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified this crisis, as evidenced by a 1000% increase in distress hotline use during the pandemic. Given the ubiquity of smartphones and their advantages for maximizing confidential, remote access to support, digital interventions show promise to bridge the mental health treatment gap among at-risk youth. However, few digital solutions have been rigorously developed and tested for effectiveness among at-risk youth. The STARS digital psychological intervention (Sustainable Technology for Adolescents to Reduce Stress) was developed by the World Health Organization to address youth symptoms of common mental disorders in low-and middle-income countries using a scalable and widely accessible platform. However, the STARS intervention has yet to be adapted and tested among youth in high-income countries. In a two-phase, global-to-local approach, we propose to: (1) utilize human-centered design principles to iteratively audience-test and adapt STARS with a diverse group of refugee and vulnerable immigrant youth in Seattle to maximize acceptability, appropriateness, and engagement; and then (2) pilot test the audience-tested and adapted STARS intervention for effectiveness, acceptability, and engagement. If successful, these pilot data will be used to support a larger grant application to test the effectiveness of STARS among refugee and vulnerable immigrant youth in the US.

Active Dates 
07/01/2020 to 06/30/2021
Faculty Involved