Can Digital Services Provide Essential Mental Health Help?

Recent data from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) has highlighted that around 1 in 5 adults have struggled with their mental health, such as depression during the early part of this year; over double that recorded before the pandemic.  

Added to this, the Centre for Mental Health anticipates that 10 million people in England alone, including approximately 1.5 million children and young people, will require mental health support as a direct link to the pandemic over the next three to five years.

Crucial in supporting this increased demand is the ability to offer a range of services that can meet the diverse needs of those most at risk.

Traditional mental health services are absolutely vital in providing essential care. However, with increasing waiting lists and services not always easy to access, could a rise in digital services be key in helping meet both current and future demands?

While it is imperative to understand that digital services may not be appropriate for specific individual cases, they can in some circumstances provide swift, flexible and accessible information and support, not only out of hours but to those who face physical barriers in using face-to-face services.

During the course of the pandemic, SHOUT 85258, the UK’s first text messaging mental health support service reported a doubling of conversations.  Around 74% of these conversations were initiated outside of office hours (9 am – 5 pm) and largely mentioned suicide, anxiety and depression; indicating the increasing need for 24-hour mental health support.

The pandemic has redefined how we use technology and adapt it into our everyday lives from homeworking, food shopping and initiating online health consultations. With the ability to access essential help at the push of a button, digital mental health services could help us understand better the scale of the UK’s mental health needs and experiences, offering a unique insight which in turn can help provide invaluable evidence-based information to shape future services.


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