Invest in digital mental health services to improve care, says Mental Health Network

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Care in England would be improved if more mental health services were given access to significant levels of dedicated funding to support digital innovation.

That is one of the recommendations made in a new report, published by Rebecca Cotton, director of policy at the Mental Health Network, the voice for NHS-funded mental health and learning disability service providers in England. 

The report, entitled Using Digital Technology to Design and Deliver Better Mental Health Services, was informed by research in Australia and the US and includes interviews with more than 50 people working in over 25 organisations about their work. 

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It highlights eheadspace, the Australian national digital delivery service for youth mental health, as a standout example of care.

This service provides an online and telephone support and counselling to young people aged 12–25, their families and friends and functions as a portal to further support, allowing people to access the correct services. 

Cotton said: “Mental health services in the UK are facing unprecedented challenges. Finances continue to be constrained and demand for existing services continues to rise.  

“There is a critical role to play for NHS England and others to both make resource available to support innovation and create the circumstances for adoption and spread. 

“Time is pressing. The opportunity is here to capitalise on the potential digital technology offers us. We can ensure more people have access to high-quality treatment, advice and support. We can ensure more people have a positive experience of using mental health services and are empowered to take control of their own recovery.”  

The Mental Health Network is part of the NHS Confederation, the membership body that brings together and speaks on behalf of all organisations that plan, commission and provide NHS services. 

Caption: Rebecca Cotton, director of policy at the Mental Health Network.

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