Digital Technology and Mental Health

Digital technology is playing a more dominant role in our lives every day. It’s time we explore its potential through the internet, smartphones, and wearables to bridge the mental health treatment gap. Can the use of digital technology help with the lack of funding and mental health services? Can therapy that is delivered via a smartphone app be as effective as therapy delivered face to face by a trained therapist?  The evidence base for digital interventions, including effectiveness and cost- efficiency needs to be stronger. There are so many unanswered questions…

There can often be a mismatch between the information needed in real-world settings and what researchers think would be useful. That’s why MindTech teamed up with the James Lind Alliance and other partners, including the McPin Foundation, to bring together people with experience of mental health problems and the people involved in their care to identify the most pressing questions about digital technology and mental health. This is known as a Priority Setting Partnership (PSP).

The McPin Foundation itself has just held the final workshop for a similar PSP on young people’s mental health, Right People Right Questions. The top ten questions for this PSP will be revealed in autumn.

Thomas Kabir, our Public Involvement Manager says:

“It’s excellent that deciding the research priorities for digital technology and mental health has been a truly collaborative effort. If research stays true to these priorities and is conducted in a collaborative manner, I believe that it will lead to meaningful and positive impact on people’s lives in the areas that are most important to them.

Now that the research priorities are avilable, we need to find out how best to answer then we need to fund new research projects, methods and partnerships.

At McPin, we are facilitating the service user involvement for a study that uses virtual reality as a form of therapy for people with psychosis and these questions will help determine what areas need to explored with this treatment option.”

Watch the video below, which introduces the top-ten questions for digital technology and mental health and explains why they are so important.

Read the full article, which was published in The Lancet (access is free.)

The Mental Elf has also hosted a blog by John Torous, the director of the digital psychiatry division, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre.

Join in the conversation on Twitter: #digitalMHQ