NHS England has launched an initiative to help treat depression and anxiety and improve access to psychological therapies by unveiling the first ever directory of NHS-endorsed digital mental health services. The Mental Health Apps Library features online tools, resources and apps that have a proven track record of effectiveness in improving mental health outcomes.
It will be accessible through the NHS Choices platform, a web site which gathers over 40 million visits per month, 9.7 million of which are to pages on depression; 6 million per month to stress and 9.4 million to anxiety.
Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s clinical director for Mental Health, said, “Mental health care can be enhanced by technology and its ability to connect us with the right treatment in a more personalized and accessible way. Increasing access to digital services which support those suffering with mental health difficulties will help people get the right care, at the right time.”
Mild and moderate mental health conditions are a major social issue, around 15% of the population is estimated to have a common mental health disorder but many find it difficult to seek help through traditional routes. Department of Health policy on improving mental health service accessibility highlights the fact that fewer than one in six older people with depression ever discuss this with their GP.
Online therapy offers patients flexibility through out of hour’s appointments as well as discretion for those worried about stigma and privacy.
The Mental Health Apps Library is the first experiment of the wider work currently being undertaken by the National Information Board to formally endorse and accredit digital services for use in clinical practice.
Mental health was chosen as an initial focus due to the growing evidence base which proves the success of online tools in treating depression and anxiety.