Mental Health Awareness Week: The age of self help and digital technology

by Marteka Swaby May 11, 2017

The age of self help and digital technology

 

Mental Health Awareness Week 

 

Stress, anxiety and depression account for the 168 million working days lost in the UK. It is estimated that 450 million people worldwide have mental health problems. Self harm statistics for the UK are the highest in Europe, with suicide rates showing that British men are three times more likely to die through suicide than women.  

Mixed anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems in Britain. It is estimated that about 10% of our children are suffering with depression. Despite these alarming statistics, there is still disparity between the treatment of physical and mental health issues in the UK. The national budget spent in health to address mental health is currently around 11%. 

If we want to close this gap then we need to work smarter to find innovative solutions that integrate different parts of the health and social care system through adopting new ways of working, including self-care that empowers people to take control.  

In fact this week is all about raising awareness in mental health to empower people suffering with mental health issues, including supporting family and carers who are often left to support their loved ones out of hours, when services are closed.  

 

Selfcare & Digital Solutions  

A key area or gap in the marketplace is around the workforce, or lack of it, which is forcing the NHS and other healthcare providers to consider alternative ways of delivering services while maintaining quality and care for patients. 

In the age of digitalisation where the average person will spend around 2 hours a day on their phone, computer or tablet device. There are literally apps you can download for anything, including self care.  It makes perfect sense to be able to self-care at the touch of a button in your own home 

Hence, it would be insane not to develop online digital solutions that build resilience and promote emotional wellbeing, as online applications don't sleep and they can be accessed anytime of day. This has the potential to increase the capacity of any mental health workforce. 

There are so many on the market it can be difficult to navigate which ones are the most relevant and helpful to your mental health needs. The issue is which one do you choose and how do you know which ones will have the greatest impact or are safe to use?  

I have recently just completed some work with a mental health provider to support the transformation of their children and young people's pathway and divert young people away from crisis services towards prevention through an online platform that provides early help. 

I really wanted to improve the experience of young people and their families, particularly for people with mental health to increase access to treatment, impacting on waiting times and accessing support when it is needed. Enabling young people to get the right help, first time.  

I believe digital solutions are key to driving this change, as using technology provides 24/7 pathway that people can be accessed instantly in their own home, where it is convenient and empowers young people to self care. 

At the touch of a button you have access to the help you need, with commissioners, partners and parents, if consented by the young person all supporting this journey and monitoring progress, to address emerging risks or needs. 

I also think crisis care is essential for people who need it and the pathway enables young people to step up if their risk or needs increase. However, I think we can do a lot more to empower people to first of all self care, where appropriate. 

 

Are you in the Health Technology Space? 

 

I think this is such an important topic and I understand the dilemma many parents, commissioners and health providers have in relation to navigating the minefield of digital technology, particularly with mental health. 

 

 To help you to navigate this minefield, alongside our digital partners who have developed solutions in this area.  We will be running a series of workshops this summer to empower young people, adults and families to self care. 

 

If you are a commissioner and would like to learn more about how digital technology can help your organisation to build resilience and improve emotional wellbeing across your health population. Please contact us and we will forward you the dates for the next workshops we will be running. 

 

 




Marteka Swaby
Marteka Swaby

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