- Allan Donsky, MD, FRCPC Psychiatry. FRCPC Pediatrics. Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary
- Abigail Williams, Research Assistant, Ph.D. Student. Faculty of Education, University of Calgary
BreathingRoom™ is an online, evidence-based intervention. It is a self-directed program for adolescents and young adults to help navigate stress, depression and anxiety. An earlier version of the program (LEAP™) was validated on a clinical population and proven to enhance mental wellness through the development of deep connections to self and others. Previous research documented the value of including spiritual concepts (appreciation of beauty, mystery of life and compassion) in the healing of depression (Rickhi et al., 2015). While an increasing number of digital mental health programs are designed to serve as therapeutic tools, the evidence base for their efficacy is often unclear and ongoing analysis is required (Grist et al., 2017). To date there has been a reliance on quantitative analysis (Clarke et al., 2015). However, the qualitative, subjective improvements participants spontaneously report may be highly relevant for the path to optimal mental well-being. This study carries out an in-depth qualitative analysis of program user responses. Methodology: Data from the BreathingRoom™ program was collected from users age 13 to 24 years. They gave open-ended responses to the optional self-assessment questionnaires at the end of each of the 8 topics about how the program impacted them. Response topics included: self-acceptance, creativity, joy, gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness compassion, and celebration. An in-depth qualitative data analysis was conducted using NVIVO software for coding and thematic categorization of anticipated and emergent themes (Pung et al., 2018). Results: Preliminary analysis of 1999 user responses reflected an improvement in users’ strength of connection to self and others. Early emerging themes included happiness, goodness, confidence and feelings of love.
- Describe the benefits of an online mental health program beyond reduction of depressive and anxiety symptoms.
- Appreciate that the inclusion of what are traditionally considered spiritual practices enhances mental well being.
- Understand that qualitative analysis can reveal unexpected value for users, clinicians and researchers, that can go unseen by quantitative data.