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Use of Digital Mental Health for Marginalized and Underserved Populations


Purpose of review: Digital mental health (DMH) interventions provide opportunities to alleviate mental health disparities among marginalized populations by overcoming traditional barriers to care and putting quality mental health services in the palm of one’s hand. While progress has been made towards realizing this goal, the potential for impactful change has yet to be realized. This paper reviews current examples of DMH interventions for certain marginalized and underserved groups, namely, ethnic and racial minorities including Latinx and African-Americans, rural populations, individuals experiencing homelessness, and sexual and gender minorities. Recent findings: Strengths and opportunities, along with the needs and considerations, of each group are discussed as they pertain to the development and dissemination of DMH interventions. Our review focuses on several DMH interventions that have been specifically designed for marginalized populations with a culturally sensitive approach along with other existing interventions that have been tailored to fit the needs of the target population. Overall, evidence is beginning to show promise for the feasibility and acceptability of DMH inter ventions for these groups, but large-scale efficacy testing and scaling potential are still lacking. Summary: These examples of how DMH can potentially positively impact marginalized populations should motivate developers, researchers, and practitioners to work collaboratively with stakeholders to deliver DMH interventions to these underserved populations in need.

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