New Zealand is experiencing a crisis in youth mental health. In a resource-constrained environment, digital technologies are increasingly promoted as a solution to the escalating need for youth mental health services. These dynamics are becoming even important as COVID-19 exacerbates mental health issues and intensifies reliance on digital forms of communication and care. But surprisingly little is known about how young people actually use, ignore, create or re-deploy digital resources to support mental wellbeing.
The digital ethics project examines Māori, Pacific, Asian and Pākehā youths’ digital care strategies, from their use of anti-anxiety apps and mental health chatbots to their engagements with YouTube mental health vlogs and online forums combating suicide or depression. It examines how youth partake in self-diagnosis and self-treatment as well as their ethical engagements in caring for friends, peers and previously-unknown others they encounter online.
By redefining lay and scholarly understandings of “patient responsibility” in order to reflect the actual complexities of young people’s everyday care practices, our ultimate aim is to elucidate how we can best employ digital technologies to help, rather than harm, youth mental wellbeing.
This project is supported by a Marsden grant ("Ka Hao te Rangatahi: Fishing with a New Net? Rethinking Responsibility for Youth Mental Health in the Digital Age"), as well as grants from Internet NZ and the University of Auckland's Faculty of Arts.
2021/Pre-print online. “Multi-Sited Therapeutic Assemblages: Virtual and Real-Life Emplacement of Youth Mental Health Support.” Social Science & Medicine.
2017. Trnka, Susanna and Andrea Merino Ortiz . “Reshaping the Landscape of Care: Health Apps and the Ethics of Self-responsibility and Care for the Other.” Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies. 14(2): 103-122.
2016. Trnka, Susanna. “Digital Care: Agency and Temporality in Young People’s Use of Health Apps.” Engaging Science, Technology, and Society. 2:248-265.
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