The COVID-19 pandemic forced the rapid move of mental health services to being delivered online. This included the delivery of a psychosocial recovery program (PRP) delivered in youth mental health services in Melbourne, Australia which consists of groups that address functional recovery. At the time, there was limited evidence about how this switch in service provision would be received by service users or what impact the pandemic was having on their mental health.
Young people engaged with the PRP between March and May 2020 were sent a link to complete an online survey that was co-developed by young people and clinicians. Attendance data at groups were extracted as a proximal measure of feasibility and acceptability.
A total of 44 young people undertook the survey with the domains of wellbeing most impacted by lockdown being work/study, motivation and social connection. Groups provided online were generally well attended during lockdown, particularly those that had a focus on therapeutic content. Young people indicated little preference for continuing to attend groups run purely online when restrictions eased, with many expressing a preference for these to be offered face-to-face or in a combined format.
These findings suggest that implementation of online psychosocial groups during periods of lockdown is both feasible and acceptable. Whilst young people found accessing groups online to be of benefit at the time, they felt that continued substitution of face-to-face groups would not necessarily be preferable and clinical services should consider these preferences in their long-term service delivery.