During SilverCloud by Amwell’s annual Digital Mindset conference, experts deliberated the potential of technology in addressing current NHS pressures and enhancing access to mental healthcare
On 21 June 2023, NHS leaders and health experts convened at the SilverCloud® by Amwell® Digital Mindset conference to address the present and future challenges facing the UK’s mental health services.
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Hosted at The King’s Fund in London, the conference explored the role of technology in alleviating pressures on NHS services, as well as in tackling the wider issues around access to care and mental health waiting lists.
Data from the National Audit Office indicates that the proportion of talking therapy sessions conducted over the phone increased from 21 per cent to 60 per cent between 2019 and 2022, while video sessions increased from 2 per cent to 26 per cent.
With these figures in mind, speakers at the Digital Mindset conference discussed whether digital interventions, introduced in the appropriate context and setting, could take the pressure off NHS services by helping people stay healthy, thus requiring less in-person treatment.
Much of the discussion focused on the role of digital mental healthcare against the backdrop of the pandemic. With covid-19 having prompted more care providers to adopt digital services, the conference heard from healthcare professionals, community providers, charities and business leaders on how they were using digital interventions to promote and improve mental wellbeing among patients and service users.
The conference also addressed more pressing challenges facing the UK’s mental health landscape. To what extent, for instance, can digital interventions support the treatment of people who are referred to children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)? Likewise, what are the opportunities for moving mental health support outside of healthcare settings and reframing the conversation to focus on prevention and self-care, as opposed to treatment?
A prevailing consensus among conference attendees was that integrating digital tools into the mental health service chain was not merely an option for the future, but an imperative for the present. If that’s the case, advocating the use of technology in mental healthcare isn’t just about promoting innovation: it’s about supporting the entire healthcare system and its users.