Single-Session Digital Intervention for Adolescent Depression, Anxiety, and Well-Being: Outcomes of a Randomized Controlled Trial with Kenyan Adolescents

A Kenyan study found that brief interventions focusing on values, growth mindset, and gratitude reduced anxiety in adolescents. Particularly, the 'values' intervention was most effective. These methods could potentially extend mental health care to low-income regions' youth.
Participating high school students
The study lasted from baseline to a two-week follow-up
Shamiri-Digital led to a greater reduction in depressive symptoms with an effect size of d=0.50
The effect size increased to 0.83 in a subsample of youths with moderate to severe depression symptoms

The Challenge

Adolescent depression and anxiety symptoms are widespread in sub-Saharan African countries. However, treatment options are scarce and stigma often discourages help-seeking.

The Solution

Brief, computerized single-session interventions (SSIs) that contain empirically supported stigma-reducing elements may provide a solution to this issue, by expanding access to treatment.

The Study

We developed and evaluated an SSI specifically designed for Kenyan adolescents, called Shamiri-Digital (Shamiri means “thrive” in Kiswahili).

The Procedure

High school students were randomized to either Shamiri-Digital or a study-skills control intervention. Shamiri-Digital consisted of reading and writing activities about three concepts: growth mindset, gratitude, and value affirmation. Both interventions were delivered electronically in schools.

The Results

Compared to the control, Shamiri-Digital led to a greater reduction in adolescent depressive symptoms among the full sample and a subsample of youths with moderate to severe depression symptoms from baseline to a 2-week follow-up. The effects surpass the mean effects reported in meta-analyses of full-length, face-to-face psychotherapy for youth depression. However, there were no significant effects on anxiety symptoms, well-being, or happiness.

In Conclusion

This is the first report that a brief, computerized SSI may reduce depressive symptoms in adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. Further trials with extended follow-ups will provide more insights into the strength and durability of these effects.

Read our full study.
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Research Informs Our Work

See below on how research guides us every step of the way:

Science can help us shape the future

The goal of our research is to develop interventions that can help youth actualize their life outcomes, identify which interventions work and why, and develop and test novel and accessible approaches to dissemination and scaling in order to maximize our impact.

Open science

Open science allows us to collaborate and share our work with the world. Our data and publications are open access.

Multicultural collaboration

Multicultural and interdisciplinary collaboration amplifies the communities that we serve.

Contextualized research

Research is not done in a silo. It is done with and for communities. Context matters.

"Culture brings us together, and allows us to remain successful across many generations of Shamirians. It is what makes us unique."

Tom Osborn
Founder & CEO | Shamiri