Year: 2020 Source: Journal of Medical Internet Research Mental Health. (2020). 7(1), e14949. doi: 10.2196/14949. SIEC No: 20200122

Suicide prevention remains challenging among youth, as many do not disclose suicidal ideation. Nearly one-third of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI and AN, tribal, or native) youth see concerning messages on social media at least weekly.

To prepare adults to support AI and AN youth who post or view concerning messages, our team designed an hour-long training: Responding to Concerning Posts on Social Media. This study tested the usability, appeal, and impact of the training.

A purposive sample of 70 adults was recruited to participate in the pilot, which included 2 study arms. Arm 1 participants completed a 30-min training video and reviewed accompanying handouts, including the Viewer Care Plan (VCP). The VCP provided a 3-step planning and response tool: (1) Start the Conversation, (2) Listen, Gather Information, and Assess Viewer Experience, and (3) Plan and Act. The intent of the VCP was to support and connect AI and AN youth who either view or post concerning messages on social media to life-saving resources. Those enrolled in arm 2 participated in an additional interactive role-play scenario with a coach that took place after the training, via text message. Participants provided qualitative and quantitative feedback on the training’s relevance, appeal, and utility. Paired t tests were used to assess confidence in addressing concerning posts between pre- and postsurveys. Content analysis of the role-play transcripts was used to assess the quality and completion of the coached role-plays, in relation to the recommended VCP.

Altogether, 35 participants finished the training and completed pre- and postsurveys; 22 participants completed the 6-month follow-up survey. Pre-post analyses of differences in means found significant improvement across several efficacy measures, including confidence starting a conversation about social media (P=.003), confidence contacting the person who posted something concerning (P<.001), and confidence recommending support services to youth who view (P=.001) or youth who post concerning messages (P<.001). Similarly, pre- to 6-month analyses found significant positive improvement across multiple measures, including confidence contacting the youth who posted (P<.001), confidence starting a conversation about social media with youth (P=.003), and an increase in the number of experiences recommending resources for youth who viewed concerning social media posts (P=.02). Of the 3 steps of the VCP, the least followed step in coached role-plays was sharing tools and resources, which is a part of the third Plan and Act step.

Findings indicate that the Responding to Concerning Posts on Social Media training is a promising tool to prepare adults to intervene and complete the VCP. Additional evaluation with a larger cohort of participants is needed to determine the unique impact of the role-play scenario and changes in mental health referral rates, behaviors, and skills.