marioalvarezI am head of eHealth at Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, and an Associate Professor at the Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne. I am also a registered clinical psychologist and continue to work clinically with young people at headspace.

I lead a team focused on developing technology-based interventions designed to address major challenges in youth mental health treatment, such as bringing about long-term recovery, through entirely novel combinations of multi-disciplinary expertise. We integrate the latest theoretical models of human computer interaction, online social media, creative writing, art, design, mathematics, and psychology to engage young people suffering from mental health disorders and to provide individually tailored interventions that improve their lives over the longer term.

I have been passionate about improving young people’s lives ever since I started my professional career. They inspire me every day with their resilience in the face of adversity, their ability to pick themselves up and desire to live fulfilling lives. They humble me every day. Young people combine vulnerability with enormous potential. I believe that young people with mental health disorders have the right to receive world class treatment, interventions that are highly innovative, dynamic, carefully designed and grounded on robust scientific models and methodologies and rigorously evaluated. Furthermore, young people must be key agents in the development of these interventions. We are addressing a human rights issue, an injustice, through innovative and rigorous science. I believe we are on a mission, to change the status quo, to get mental health treatment to the highest standards, the standards that our young people demand and deserve.

I aspire to establish a sustainable workforce of world-class multidisciplinary professionals that work hand in hand with young people to create interventions with the potential to make a long-lasting difference in their lives. I aspire to promote the science of developing online interventions in youth mental health, where excellence in quality and design is given the same emphasis as the rigorous evaluation of these interventions, and where development rests on sound and testable models of user engagement and participation.

In my opinion, part of the slow progress in developing more effective interventions over the last 2 decades is related to our limited knowledge of the interaction between the individual and their social environment. The next generation of interventions needs to not only carefully take into account and understand the social context of the young person, but also to use it and modify it, in order to foster their social recovery. The integration of online social media and knowledge from various fields can make this possible.