We are Elrha, a force for change in the humanitarian community. The research and innovation we support equips the humanitarian community with the knowledge of what works, so people affected by crises get the right help when they need it most.
Our purpose is clear: to empower the humanitarian community to improve humanitarian response. We make this happen by supporting and championing the outcomes of robust research and proven innovations.
We empower the humanitarian community. Find out how we can support you...

Principal Investigator: Mark van Ommeren, World Health Organization


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that 1 in 5 people affected by conflict will experience a mental disorder. There is a need for low-intensity psychological interventions to support people affected by adverse situations. With increased smartphone access in low-resourced settings, digital (e-Mental health) interventions may be part of the solution. Currently, research on their effectiveness in these settings is scarce.

STARS (Sustainable Technology for Adolescents and youth to Reduce Stress) is a new e-Mental health intervention, delivered through a chatbot interface, developed by WHO to improve the mental health of adolescents and youth experiencing emotional distress in adverse environments. To determine the effectiveness of STARS, a randomised controlled trial of youth (aged 18-21 years), will be conducted in Jordan, following cultural and contextual adaptation of the intervention. Participants will be randomised to receive either STARS or enhanced usual care, with outcomes assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and 3-month follow up.

Expected Outcomes

The results of the trial and associated research will be disseminated through conferences, peer-reviewed academic journals, webinars and capacity building programmes.

Assuming positive results from the trial, we expect implementation of STARS as an evidenced based self-help psychological intervention in Jordan, with project partners supporting these efforts using their understanding of STARS developed through this project.

Regionally and internationally, WHO will continue to build the evidence-base surrounding the STARS intervention with the aim of releasing the materials as a global public good on the basis of pooled positive results from two trials. In addition, UNHCR, UNICEF, and WHO will work with major stakeholders, including governments, humanitarian funders, and implementers to ensure that the STARS intervention is implemented as widely as possible, and included in relevant policies and guidance.

Mark van Ommeren

World Health Organization

Self-help delivered online can be highly effective when provided with guidance from a non-specialist helper. This research will test a new intervention that uses a chatbot to deliver self-help materials. Chatbots may be a more engaging and potentially more scalable way to deliver online interventions in humanitarian contexts.


Subscribe to our newsletters....

Elrha © 2018 - 2023 Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110). KEEP IN TOUCH Want to stay up to date with our latest updates? Sign up to our newsletters
Elrha Please upgrade your browser

You are seeing this because you are using a browser that is not supported. The Elrha website is built using modern technology and standards. We recommend upgrading your browser with one of the following to properly view our website:

Windows Mac

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of browsers. We also do not intend to recommend a particular manufacturer's browser over another's; only to suggest upgrading to a browser version that is compliant with current standards to give you the best and most secure browsing experience.