Help@Hand: Older Adult Technology Project
Help@Hand is part of a 15-County/City innovation project funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). The goal of Help@Hand is to learn where and how digital behavioral health technologies fit within the system of behavioral health by exploring how people can access digital technology to improve well-being. With a research team from the University of California at Irvine, project staff members are researching how various technology-based apps can assist individuals in using technology to support their wellness. Help@Hand hopes to improve well-being of Californians by integrating promising technologies and lived experiences to open doors to mental health supports.
Marin County has focused these funds on supporting the mental and emotional wellness of Older Adults by building digital literacy.
The Marin project piloted digital literacy training and wellness apps with isolated older adults (60 years and older) in 2021. Pilot findings demonstrate high value of providing digital behavioral health supports to isolated older adults. Benefits of the overall program included feelings of connectedness. This was fostered through interacting with other participants, and by learning skills such as connecting with family and friends virtually. There was a significant decrease in loneliness as well as social isolation among participants. Overall participants were satisfied with the program, and hoped more programs like this would be offered in the future.
After the completion of the pilot, Marin County began planning to offer time-limited innovation project grants to local organizations incorporating a digital component to increase access to wellness supports. A Request for Proposals was issued for grants supporting the older adult community (60+) in Marin County who are isolated for a multitude of reasons. In June 2023, seven (7) grantees were selected.
These grantees will work with their communities to build digital literacy through workshops, individual sessions, videos and digital literacy websites. Sessions will be offered both in person and virtually. Mental wellness will be supported throughout by increasing awareness of digital resources, building tools to combat isolation and fostering healthy community partnerships.
- Marin City Community Development Corporation: The Digital Literacy Program will provide training and support for older adults with mental health. Through exciting and interactive workshops, individuals will have the opportunity to learn at their own pace, work with a Digital Literacy Coach in a group setting or sign up for one-on-one sessions. Workshops are on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11:00am-12:00pm, with practice available in the computer lab from 12:00pm-3:00pm. Drop-ins are welcome.
- Marin County Cooperation Team: A holistic digital literacy program will be provided for 20 elderly Black individuals in Southern Marin who are facing isolation. This program not only helps enhance their tech skills but also connects them with mental health resources. Our comprehensive approach includes, dedicated one-on-one tech mentors, monthly gatherings and online access to mental health resources and digital tools/training to increase digital literacy through our DigiTimes platform.
- Sausalito and Marin Villages: The Sausalito and Marin Villages Collaborative Digital Literacy Project will promote digital literacy by providing technology training to increase 550 older adults' knowledge, comfort level and use of their computers, tablets and phones. It will also focus on how to access online websites for mental health resources and other educational and social programs. The training will be accomplished through one-one-one sessions, Zoom tech sessions and group in-person sessions.
- Technology 4 Life: The goal of the VITAL program is to build digital literacy for older adults to improve their mental wellness by creating 8 short (20-30) minute video training modules focused on building digital literacy on an iPhone in both English and Spanish. The videos will cover device basics, settings, calls, texting, emails, using the internet, Zoom basics and device maintenance. Each video will incorporate evidence-based models for older adult learning such as repetition, step by step instruction, and modeling. By partnering with local agencies, we can better reach older adults who may be limited by mobility. Once created the videos can be used again and again.
- Mount Tamalpais College: This project will increase computer literacy skills among 75 older adults currently enrolled at Mount Tamalpais College (MTC) inside San Quentin Prison to improve their access to mental health and wellness support and resources. These students will develop computer literacy skills through scheduled workshops and drop-in, self-paced computer literacy modules available at MTC’s computer lab. After participating in workshops and self-paced modules, participants will have increased skills and confidence in using computers to search for and find mental health information, education, and services post release. We will also work to increase mental health and wellness resources safe-listed by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation so that they are available through the San Quentin intranet.
- Vivalon: Build a robust volunteer technology support program for older adults in Marin through the expansion of Vivalon’s volunteer Tech Tutor program providing 1-hour one-on-one tech support sessions for older adults to solve tech problems or continue learning new digitals skills. We will offer up to 20 1-hour tech support sessions per week by the end of the grant period. The program will continue beyond the grant period as a regular Vivalon service offered for the long term and promoted throughout the County.
- YWCA: YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley will provide senior residents of Golden Gate Villages with digital literacy skills to increase access and engagement to mental health wellness supports. We will serve 50 senior residents at Golden Gate Villages with basic computer and smartphone digital literacy skills including setting up Gmail and Zoom Accounts, intro to Social Media, Exploring Wellness Apps, computer safety, Chrome browser, and how to access services and information online. The basic digital skills classes will be provided in a cohort model to participants with each cohort meeting weekly for 7 consecutive weeks for 1 ½ hours each week. By empowering the residents with digital skills, we aim to address barriers to mental health resources and facilitate their engagement with online platforms and services specifically designed to support their mental well-being.
An innovative and exciting part of the Help@Hand initiative is the peer counselor role. The peer counselor works alongside participants in a way that supports their strengths and honors their skills. The peer is stationed at two local County of Marin Peer Sites, the Empowerment Clubhouse and the Enterprise Resource Center. Workshops with drop-in spaces are offered for individuals to explore their curiosities and creativity using digital mental health tools unique to their needs. The peer counselor uses a personalized approach by encompassing a variety of digital literacy levels within a group by providing opportunities for participants to embrace and adapt to digital mental health tools in a way that is beneficial to their wellness. Workshops are open to all and are available in English/Spanish to support the Help@Hand County of Marin focus on older adults who would like to increase their social-connectedness and well-being. Workshops include accessing electronic health records, using Zoom, navigating county resources, exploring behavioral wellness apps, and enrolling in online education.
As an innovation project involving the rapidly shifting field of technology, the project has grown and evolved. More information about the Help@Hand state-wide effort can be found at https://helpathandca.org/. For more information about Marin’s project, please contact our team member Camille Stone Program Coordinator at email@example.com.
Updated Webpage: July 13, 2023