Newsletter Article

Help@Hand Evaluation Points to Value of Technology, Digital Literacy in Mental Health  

Key staff: Brittany Ganguly, Senior Program Manager; Lorena Campos, Senior Program Coordinator 

At the end of June, the Help@Hand collaborative of cities and counties will complete its five-year stint as a multi-year innovation project. Funded by the Mental Health Services Act, Help@Hand has been an innovative, cross-county partnership demonstrating how technology can be incorporated into the behavioral health care system.  

Evaluators at UC Irvine recently found that online tools may have helped adults, especially from Help@Hand counties and cities, to seek more help for mental health concerns during 2019-22. Additionally, over 70% of teens and 80% of adults rated online tools for addressing mental health concerns as useful, in both Help@Hand and non-Help@Hand counties and cities. 

The program’s ultimate vision has been to enhance the mental health support and overall well-being of Californians by integrating technologies and real-life experiences. In the last five years:  

  • 14 counties participated, exploring how mental health apps and technology fit within their system of care.  
  • There were 39 different implementations  across the project with 12 unique products .  
  • Hundreds of community members supported in participating counties with device distribution programs and ‘Appy Hours.’  

“We have been honored to help lead Help@Hand with overall management, as well as benchmarking successful processes and tools,” said Jeremy Wilson, CalMHSA senior program director. “Over the last five years, the program has helped people in communities across California who wouldn’t otherwise have known they were eligible for support from their county.”  

Some learnings detailed by the most recent UC Irvine evaluation include:   

  • CalMHSA was an effective central point to facilitate a range of tasks and services for counties/cities, including distributing funds, identifying vendors and contracting. 
  • Counties/cities learned that digital health literacy involved teaching people about mental health, the language used and the array of aspects that are a part of mental health.  
  • Many innovation programs illuminated the importance of device access and literacy in daily living, which went beyond mental health support.   
  • Counties/cities valued the benefits of collaboration during the project planning process. They shared that collaboration made it easier to allocate funds and provide services to community members, all while introducing new and innovative approaches.  

The Help@Hand website will remain active beyond the program’s sunset in June, with a comprehensive set of resources, information about learnings and outcomes, and evaluation reports.  

May 24, 2024