As a mentor, you might be working with a youth who’s facing difficulties and challenges such as depression, anxiety, trauma-related stress, behavioral problems at school, oppositional conduct, or other issues. Such issues are common with the youth we mentor, more so than in the general population.
You may wonder what, if anything, you as a mentor can do to support a mentee wrestling with these kinds of challenges. Although you are not a trained professional, there are ways you can support youth and improve their well-being.
What is MentorPro?
You’re probably already familiar with MentorPRO, but the overview is that it allows you, the mentor, to support your mentee and check in about their progress on wellbeing apps.
MentorPRO prioritizes connecting mentees to evidence-based mental health and well-being apps, or apps that have been shown to work through research studies. However, the research conducted shows that these apps work for people who use the applications correctly.
But what about people who still need the app, but drop out or don’t use it the right way? That’s where you come in with supportive accountability.
What is Supportive Accountability?
In this course, we’ll focus on working with youth who are engaged with widely available behavioral and mental health applications (or apps) delivered via mobile devices or computers. These kinds of app-delivered interventions are increasingly being used to help youth manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Many of these apps have been found to be effective in reducing mental health symptoms, especially if used regularly and combined with practice.
However, engaging youth in mental health services has always been a challenge, and app-delivered interventions are no exception. One promising solution is pairing the youth with a coach who can provide supportive accountability.
Supportive accountability is a model where a mentee independently works their way through one of the widely-available behavioral or mental health applications, and their coach or mentor helps them get the most out of the application by checking in on progress. As the name suggests, the mentor provides support for the mentee if a question or problem comes up with using the application, and holds the mentee accountable for completing the program. You’ll be the person to make sure the mentee is using the application correctly and getting the most out of it.
Research has shown that supportive accountability coaches can significantly improve youth long-term gains from the apps. This is a key role you can play for your mentee, even without a formal background in treating mental health.
Why is Supportive Accountability Important?
Supportive accountability addresses common difficulties or “failure points” that are often encountered in app-based interventions. When young people are provided with supportive accountability and opportunities to practice, app-delivered interventions can produce outcomes that rival those of face-to-face interventions, often at no cost and in ways that are often more geographically, financially, and socially acceptable (Linardon, 2019; Mohr, 2018). The main idea is to combine encouragement and empathy with clear expectations and active follow-up on progress through the app.
We believe all mentors can be successful supportive accountability coaches! In this training, we hope to provide you with tools and best practices so you can effectively support youth who are engaged in an app-delivered mental health intervention for anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.
1 Mohr, D., Cuijpers, P., & Lehman, K. (2011). Supportive accountability: a model for providing human support to enhance adherence to eHealth interventions. Journal of medical Internet research, 13(1), e30.