Scoping Review: Digital Mental Health Interventions for Children and Adolescents Affected by War

Authors:  Andrea Danese, Dmytro Martsenkovskyi, Barbara Remberk, Monika Youssef Khalil, Emma Diggins, Eleanor Keiller, Saba Masood, Isang Awah, Corrado Barbui, Renée Beer, Rachel Calam, Marcio Gagliato, Tine K. Jensen, Zlatina Kostova, James F. Leckman, Stephanie J. Lewis, Boris Lorberg, Olha Myshakivska, Elisa Pfeiffer, Rita Rosner, Jessica L. Schleider, Yulia Shenderovich, Norbert Skokauskas, Patrick H. Tolan, Ernesto Caffo, Marit Sijbrandij, Dennis Ougrin, Bennett L. Leventhal, John R. Weisz, and the Global Resources fOr War-affected youth (GROW) Network


Over 200 million children and adolescents live in countries affected by violent conflict, are likely to have complex mental health needs, and struggle to access traditional mental health services. Digital mental health interventions have the potential to overcome some of the barriers in accessing mental health support. We performed a scoping review to map existing digital mental health interventions relevant for children and adolescents affected by war, examine the strength of the evidence base, and inform the development of future interventions.
Based on a pre-registered strategy, we systematically searched MEDLINE, Embase, Global Health, APA PsychInfo, and Google Scholar from the creation of each database to 30th September 2022, identifying k=6,843 studies. Our systematic search was complemented by extensive consultation with experts from the GROW Network.
The systematic search identified 6 relevant studies: one evaluating digital mental health interventions for children and adolescents affected by war and five for those affected by disasters. Experts identified 35 interventions of possible relevance. The interventions spanned from universal prevention to specialist-guided treatment. Most interventions directly targeted young people and parents/carers and were self-guided. A quarter of the interventions were tested through randomized controlled trials. Because most interventions were not culturally or linguistically adapted to relevant contexts, their implementation potential was unclear.