Overview


BITE BACK
is the very first online positive psychology program aimed at improving the overall wellbeing and happiness of young Australians between the ages of 12 and 18 years.
The key objectives of this program are to encourage young people to become more engaged in all aspects of their lives and, ultimately, to build resilience.

bite-backThe program contains interactive activities, quizzes, stories and videos relating to a range positive psychology domains, as well as information about various mental health topics.

The site also provides an interactive environment for young people to build community networks and find out more about youth-relevant issues.

Program type

 Web Based Desktop

 Mobile Friendly

Rationale

Whilst the mental health of people of all ages is important, the health of young people in Australia has raised concerns amongst mental health professionals in recent years. Australian youth (aged 18-24 years) have the highest rate of mental illness (26%) compared to any other age group.

The 2014 Mission Australia’s Youth Survey showed that 21.2% of young people, aged 15-19 years met the criteria for a probable serious mental illness. Further, it has been estimated that 70 per cent of mental health problems have their onset in childhood or early adolescence but only one in four will seek professional help.

This is of concern to public health authorities and health professionals alike who are turning to early intervention and prevention as an effective way to address youth mental ill-health.

Positive psychology is the study of mental wellbeing and seeks to understand what leads a person to feel content, happy and engaged in life.

It offers an approach to youth mental health by emphasising the pursuit of wellbeing rather than on specific strategies to prevent mental ill-health (which has been the focus of traditional prevention programs). It has a focus on improving mental wellbeing and increasing resilience rather than on simply alleviating symptoms of a mental disorder.

Australian Youth 18-24 with Mental Health Issues

Outcomes and Significance

BITE BACK has been created by a collaborative team of psychologists, young people and digital media specialists, using the principles of positive psychology to enhance the mental health of all young people (‘universal’ approach).

As this is the first program of its kind, youth ownership and feedback has been integral to the success of BITE BACK and its ongoing growth.

Research

Following the development phase, it was deemed important not only to gauge the appeal, useability and desirability of the website to young people across Australia but also to assess the effectiveness of the site for improving subjective mental wellbeing.

The results of this study suggested that using an online positive psychology program could decrease symptoms of psychopathology and increase wellbeing in young people especially for those that used the website more often and/or for longer than 30 minutes per week. Qualitative data indicated that acceptability of the BITE BACK website was also high.
The Institute is also performing a systematic review of positive psychology interventions in schools to ensure that BITE BACK continues to be based in the latest scientific findings.

Research project

http://www.jmir.org/2014/6/e140/

Contributors

Vijaya Manicavasagar
Deserae Horswood
Rowan Burckhardt
Alistair Lum
Dusan Hadzi-Pavlovic
Gordon Parker
Felicia Huppert
Jacqui Wallace
Nic Newling
Romi Kaufman
Kate Fagan

Marty Smiley
Annette McClelland
Liz Talbot
Alistair Lum
Sarah Versitano

Funding
  • Australian Department of Health
  • NSW Department of Health
  • Juniper Networks Foundation