Joyce, D., & Weibelzahl, S. (2006). Text messaging as a means of lowering barriers to help-seeking in students with depression. In: Proceedings of IADIS International Conference e-Society 2006, Dublin, Ireland (pp. 211-214). Lisbon: IADIS.

Whilst depression is one of the most common ailments to afflict adolescents and students, there is reluctance amongst sufferers to present for treatment. Student counseling services are widespread throughout the educational environment, however only 20% of sufferers seek help, leaving 80% to suffer unaided and in isolation. Certain barriers to help seeking have been identified in the research literature, and in this paper we examine how text messaging can be harnessed to encourage sufferers to overcome these barriers and seek help, by initiating dialogue and providing timely exhortations (via a student’s mobile phone) to avail of counseling services. To prevent students feeling targeted, these messages form part of a once-weekly stream of text messages from college to student, relating to finance, sports, exams etc.

This paper outlines reactions to the service and describes experiments that are currently ongoing to determine the effect of such text messaging, as measured by an increase in the number of students availing of counseling services. It also outlines some of the issues involved in getting the experiments up and running.

author = {David Joyce and Stephan Weibelzahl},
title = {Text Messaging as a Means of Lowering Barriers to Help-Seeking in Students with Depression},
booktitle = {Proceedings of {IADIS} {I}nternational {C}onference e-{S}ociety 2006, {D}ublin, {I}reland},
year = {2006},
publisher = {IADIS},
address = {Lisbon},
pages = {211--214}