(SMH2) Digitalization of Mental Health Promotion: Expanding Access to Mental Health Care for Marginalized Populations through Digital Interventions

Conference Highlights, Panels and Plenary, Virtual
Sociology of Mental Health

Digital mental health (DMH) has emerged as a pivotal tool to enhance accessibility to mental health services, particularly for communities with limited access to inclusive care. DMH encompasses the use of digital health technology such as mobile devices, communication software, apps, platforms, and immersive devices for mental health assessment, support, prevention, and treatment. The adoption of digital mental health services was steadily growing prior to 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated their widespread acceptance, including online and mobile mental health platforms and tele-mental health services. Despite these advancements, questions persist regarding the design and implementation of digital mental health promotion strategies that are accessible and effectiveness in serving vulnerable and marginalized populations. By sharing the experiences in developing digital health promotion intervention platforms, the panel discussion will enable participants to explore lessons learnt on: (1) What kinds of technologies are used in panelists’ practices of mental health promotions? (2) What social and cultural factors shape the design and delivery of digital mental health promotion? (3) What are the unique mental health needs of racialized immigrants and LGBTQ+ individuals and how digital interventions can help bridge existing disparities? (4) What is the main challenge for promoting a culturally sensitive and socially inclusive digital mental health project?

In this panel session, we will invite at least one knowledge user who participated in digital mental health project. Scholars and knowledge users will engage in critical dialogue on the ethics and social justice principles in designing and implementing online stigma reduction and empowerment interventions with marginalized groups, including racialized immigrants and LGBTQ+ communities. Drawing on insights from community dialogue and experiences from over a decade of implementing community-centered programs, the panelists will highlight the complex interwoven contexts of digital in/equities; epistemic in/justices; social inclusion/exclusion; and the possibilities of co-creating emancipatory digital mental health promotion.


  • Dr. Josephine Wong, Professor, Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, Toronto Metropolitan University
  • Dr. Kenneth Fung, Staff Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the Asian Initiative in Mental Health Program at the Toronto Western Hospital
  • Dr. Alan Li, Physician, Regent Park Community Health Centre, and Co-Chair of Committee Alliance for Accessible Treatment (CAAT)
Tags: Community Engagement, Digital Studies, Mental Health, Migration and Immigration

Organizers: Rui Hou, Toronto Metropolitan University, Josephine Wong, Toronto Metropolitan University