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National recognition for MindTech

MindTech, the healthcare technology co-operative, hosted at the Institute of Mental Health is today celebrating national recognition having been placed in the spotlight in the Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2013 Public Mental Health Priorities: Investing in the Evidence Treatment, launched today.

The report, written by Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Government's Chief Medical Officer is launched yearly and this year focusses on mental healthcare.

Dame Sally, who officially opened the Institute's new building on the University of Nottingham Innovation Park (UNIP) in 2012, invited Professor Chris Hollis, Clinical Director of MindTech, to lead a chapter on technology for mental health in the report.

The MindTech Healthcare Technology Co-operative is a national centre of excellence, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), focussing on the development, evaluation and
adoption of new technology for mental healthcare. They work on a range of projects in partnership with service users, carers, NHS Trusts, charities, universities and industry.

Prof Chris Hollis commented: "We are delighted that Dame Sally has identified the need for evidence-based technologies for mental health. Digital technologies such as online therapies and apps offer the potential to transform mental healthcare service delivery. We also need to develop a larger evidence base and systems of quality assurance to support wider adoption of mental health technology in the NHS.

MindTech is working on a wide range of projects in this area that aim to address the unmet needs of service users and the NHS and for that to be highlighted as a priority for mental health services by Dame Sally Davies on such a national platform is a real testament to all that we do within MindTech."

A key focus in the report is the fact that 75% of people with diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all and advances in technology can help to close this gap in service provision. Using technology can improve access to evidence based therapies, and enable them to be delivered in new and engaging ways.

Dame Sally reports: "Advances in technology, online psychological therapy and remote video consultation, mobile apps and gaming represent real opportunities for promoting mental health. To be prescribed they should be acceptable to the NHS."

To support this priority, MindTech has recently produced a toolkit that aims to help service users, carers and NHS organisations identify apps that could make a positive impact on mental health while also considering privacy, safety and effectiveness. Apps have the potential to promote and support self-management through improved monitoring of symptoms and better communication with peers and NHS services.

The toolkit is currently being tested by a number of service users and NHS Mental Health Trusts. It is being formally launched at the Kings Fund Digital Healthcare Congress in London on Thursday 11 September.

MindTech is also working with Big White Wall to evaluate their innovative online peer support and e-therapy programme, which has been identified by NHS England as a High Impact Innovation. The programme acts as an online community for people with depression and anxiety to talk openly and anonymously about what is on their mind and to find ways to better manage their daily lives.

The challenge of evidence based technology will be the focus of the MindTech national symposium 'Mind the Gap – how can evidence keep pace with technology development in mental healthcare?' on 24 November 2014 in London.

For more information about MindTech, the national symposium and other events visit www.mindtech.org.uk