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A multicomponent digital intervention to promote help-seeking for mental health problems and suicide in sexual and gender diverse young adults: A randomized controlled trial.

PLoS Medicine 2023 March 7
BACKGROUND: LGBTQ+ community's higher susceptibility to worse mental health outcomes and more help-seeking barriers compared to the cis-heterosexual population. Despite the LGBTQ+ population facing higher mental health risks, there has been a dearth of research focusing on developing tailored interventions targeting them. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of a digital multicomponent intervention in promoting help-seeking for mental health issues in LGBTQ+ young adults.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: We recruited LGBTQ+ young adults aged between 18 and 29 who scored moderate or above on at least 1 dimension of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale 21 and did not have help-seeking experiences in the past 12 months. Participants (n = 144) were stratified by gender assigned at birth (male/female) and randomly allocated (1:1 ratio) to the intervention or active control parallel condition by generating a random number table, so they were blinded to the intervention condition. All participants received online psychoeducational videos, online facilitator-led group discussions, and electronic brochures in December 2021 and January 2022, with the final follow-up in April 2022. The contents of the video, discussion, and brochure are help-seeking for the intervention group and general mental health knowledge for the control group. The primary outcomes were help-seeking intentions for emotional problems and suicidal ideation and attitudes toward seeking help from mental health professionals at the 1-month follow-up. The analysis was performed by including all participants based on their randomized group regardless of adherence to the protocol. A linear mixed model (LMM) was used for analysis. All models were adjusted for baseline scores. Chinese Clinical Trial Registry: ChiCTR2100053248. A total of 137 (95.1%) participants completed a 3-month follow-up, and 4 participants from the intervention condition and 3 from the control condition did not complete the final survey. Compared with the control group (n = 72), a significant improvement was found in help-seeking intentions for suicidal ideation in the intervention group (n = 70) at post-discussion (mean difference = 0.22, 95% CI [0.09, 0.36], p = 0.005), 1-month (mean difference = 0.19, 95% CI [0.06, 0.33], p = 0.018), and 3-month follow-ups (mean difference = 0.25, 95% CI [0.11, 0.38], p = 0.001). There was also a significant improvement in the intervention condition on the help-seeking intention for emotional problems at 1-month (mean difference = 0.17, 95% CI [0.05, 0.28], p = 0.013) and 3-month follow-ups (mean difference = 0.16, 95% CI [0.04, 0.27], p = 0.022) compared with the control group. Participants' depression and anxiety literacy and help-seeking encouragement related knowledge in intervention conditions showed significant improvements. There were no significant improvements in actual help-seeking behaviors, self-stigma toward seeking professional assistance, depression, and anxiety symptoms. No adverse events or side effects were observed. However, the follow-up time point was limited to 3 months which might not be long enough for drastic mindset and behavioral changes in help-seeking to occur.

CONCLUSIONS: The current intervention was an effective approach in promoting help-seeking intentions, mental health literacy, and help-seeking encouragement-related knowledge. Its brief yet integrated intervention format could also be utilized in treating other imminent concerns confronted by LGBTQ+ young adults.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Chictr.org.cn, ChiCTR2100053248.

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