Active ingredients: understanding remote measurement technologies to improve anxiety and depression

Person using smart watch

What is the project about?

The Wellcome active ingredients project is looking at interventions that really make a difference in preventing, treating, or managing youth anxiety and depression. This particular reserach project will be focusing on understanding remote measurement technologies.

Remote measurement technologies are devices such as smartphones and wearable sensors or digital applications that can be used capture changes in biology, behaviour, and environment that are relevant to mental health. It is hoped that key insights into factors such as activity, wellbeing, sleep and diet will guide us towards prevention and better treatments for anxiety and depression.

How are McPin involved?

The McPin Foundation are working to ensure the delivery of quality research informed from a lived experience perspective and have recruited two young co-researchers. Our co-researchers will be investigating a range of remote technologies, looking to use their own knowledge and experience to support a review of available evidence as well as aiding the intrepretation and analysis of how effective these technologies are.

The co-researchers will have the opportunity to share learning and explore how remote technologies may relate to other identified ‘active ingredients’.

Why is this research important?

Anxiety and depression affects millions of people and generally starts in youth. Yet we still know too little about what works for whom and why. Understanding remote technologies could provide supporting evidence that enables people to self-manage their anxiety and depression.

What is the current status of the project?

The RMT evidence review has been completed by our co-researchers and the team led by Annie Walsh from Kings College London who then shared the final report draft with our YPAG for their feedback. The YPAG have also supported Annie to disseminate the results by helping to create the below video and infographic.

And you can read an overview of the project thanks to the National Elf Service here.

The future of mental health science:

Dion Agnuza, Mental Health Lived Experience Advisor at Wellcome says:  

“The proposed active ingredients increased my confidence in the future of mental healthcare – a future that takes individual differences on what works best into consideration.” 

Find out more:

Find out more about Wellcome’s mental health programme here.

Funded by Wellcome to advance science so no one is held back by mental health problems

Dr Annabel Walsh

Annie completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at The University of Manchester and a Masters by Research in Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London. She then specialised in mental health research at The University of Oxford, Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Laboratory focusing on depression, the dopamine reward system, and prediction of treatment response. She was awarded her DPhil Psychiatry in 2016 and continued this work for some time as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant. She then moved back to London as Research Information Officer for the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre at South Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, whilst also obtaining PRINCE II project management accreditation. With her combined mental health research and project management skills, she became Senior Postdoctoral Research Project Manager for the MQ-funded Identifying Depression Early in Adolescence (IDEA) Project – an international, multidisciplinary consortium dedicated to finding new ways to identify those adolescents at risk of developing depression and improve early intervention / preventative strategies across the globe. During this role, Annie was also Team Lead for the Wellcome Trust Active Ingredients Commission 2021 focusing on a personal interest in the use of remote measurement technologies as predictive tools in depression and conducted a realist review in collaboration with the McPin Foundation Young People’s Network. With her own lived experience, Annie is a strong advocate for the involvement of experts by experience in all aspects of research, and is herself a member of several involvement initiatives, including the NIHR Maudsley BRC Feasibility and Acceptability Support Team for Researchers (FAST-R), the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit Lived Experience Advisory Network (MHPRU-LEAN), and the McPin Foundation-facilitated Tailoring evidence-based psychological therapY for People with common mental disorder including Psychotic Experiences Lived Experience Advisory Panel (TYPPEX-LEAP). As such, it was meant to be and an honour to accept my current role as Senior Public Involvement in Research Facilitator for the new partnership between The McPin Foundation and University of Birmingham, Institute for Mental Health.