Use Digital Technology To Transform Mental Health Services Says Mental Health Network

The NHS needs to make better use of digital technology in providing mental health treatment and care, says a new report from the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network.

The future’s digital: mental health and technology examines ways to deliver services more effectively and efficiently using technology, and what the digital revolution means for the future provision of NHS mental health services.

Using the findings of a survey of 64 Mental Health Network members, the report highlighted that whilst progress to date has been slow, there is a real appetite for change. 73 per cent of respondents have plans to enable online appointment booking in future, and 82 per cent said they have plans to use online and mobile applications to support service delivery.

Rebecca Cotton, director of policy for the Mental Health Network (MHN), said:

“Digital technology has transformed the way we live our lives in so many ways. Increasingly people are buying goods online, managing their finances over the web, and using social media to keep in touch with family and friends. Compared with other sectors, the NHS is seriously behind the curve. We need to catch up if we’re going to deliver the sorts of services the public want.

“We also need to make better use of technology if we’re going to keep the NHS financially sustainable for future generations. Mental health services have had their budgets cut, in real terms, for the past three years. By 2030 there will be approximately 2 million more adults in the UK with mental health problems. We need to deliver services differently if we’re going to keep up with increasing demand.”

The report calls for a national strategy for e-mental health to be developed in 2015/2016, plus a programme of investment to support transformation and change.