An online intervention to support the mental wellbeing of sexual and gender minority young people in England: Co-design of Oneself

Katherine Brown, Mathijs F.G. Lucassen, Alicia Núñez-García, Katharine A. Rimes, Louise M. Wallace, Rajvinder Samra

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Sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY) are known to be at greater risk of compromised mental health when compared with their heterosexual and cisgender peers. This is often considered to be due largely to an increased burden from stigma, discrimination, or victimisation resulting in the heightened experience of stress in their daily lives. Given increasing digital accessibility and a strong preference for support online amongst SGMY, digital interventions are a keyway to provide support to manage stress and maintain their wellbeing.
This paper aims to explicate the codesign processes and underpinning logic of Oneself, a bespoke online intervention for SGMY.
The research followed a six-stage process set out by Hagen and colleagues (Identify, Define, Position, Concept, Create, Use) incorporating: a systematic scoping review of existing evidence; focus groups with four stakeholder groups (i.e., SGMY, professionals who directly support SGMY, parents of SGMY, and UK public health service commissioners); a series of co-design workshops and online consultations with SGMY; the appointment of a digital developer; and young adult SGM contributors to create content that was grounded in genuine SGMY experiences.
Oneself features a welcome/home page that includes a free ‘accessible to all’ animation explaining the importance of using appropriate pronouns, and the opportunity to log-in to access further free content. Creating a user account provides an opportunity (for the user and the research team) to record engagement, assess users’ wellbeing and track progress through the available content. There are three sections of content focussed on the priority topics identified through co-design; 1. coming out and doing so safely, 2. managing school, including homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying or similar, and 3. dealing with parents and families, especially unsupportive family members, including parents/caregivers. The content focuses on identifying these as problems and potential solutions. There is also a section containing relaxation exercises, a section with links to other recommended support and resources, and a ‘downloads’ section with more detailed techniques and strategies for tackling mental health problems and improving wellbeing.
This paper contributes to research by opening up the ‘black box’ of intervention development. It shows how Oneself is underpinned by a logic which can support future development/evaluation and included diverse co-designers. More interactive techniques to support wellbeing would be a beneficial addition in further development of Oneself. Further consideration of how being SGMY intersects with other aspects of one’s identity (such as ethnicity) would also be beneficial in future content development. Clinical Trial: N/A
Original languageEnglish
Article number54586
Number of pages42
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Feb 2024


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