12th July 2021
Government urged to invest in the development of new modes of mental health care through technology
A new report is urging the government to invest in the digitisation of mental healthcare services across England for the benefit of citizens and the health and care workforce to aid in COVID-19 recovery.
The Mental Health Tech Landscape Review, released today by Future Care Capital (FCC), not only recommends a range of measures to enable higher quality care through the use of technology, but it also shows that there is potential for the development of a wider range of different types of technology solution. This is demonstrated by the relatively small sector niche of companies developing technology solutions for mental health care, when compared to other areas of healthcare, or other sectors.
An estimated 1.6 million people are in contact with mental healthcare services[i] but calculating the size of the mental healthcare market is challenging – The Health and Care Bill and plans for Reform of social care should have a significant impact on future mental health care provision. However, there is the danger of mental healthcare “falling through the gaps”.
The research identified a relatively small population of companies developing mental healthcare technology. Of the developers discovered, the main technologies being developed were apps, platforms and IoT (Internet of Things) technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and gamification approaches were also prominent in the sample.
Professor Sir Simon Wessely said:
“This report confirms what so many of us have witnessed for ourselves – that digital forms of mental health care delivery are beneficial. They are here to stay and indeed spread further. There is an opportunity for technologies to provide radically different types of care, rather than merely scaling current approaches online. However, further research into the efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness of mental health technologies cannot be bypassed.”
Dr Peter Bloomfield, FCC’s Head of Policy and Research, said:
“Support for mental health has needed improvement for many years in the UK. The pathways for accessing services are convoluted, waiting lists are extensive, and outcomes are poor over the long term.”
“The pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult clinical and care context. It is unclear how the Government’s mental health recovery plan will be implemented for citizens alongside health and care workers. A complementary approach including face-to-face care and digital support tools will be useful.”
“Coming up with new ways to maintain good mental health, in a preventative way, will be as essential as providing tools for acute care and we believe technology has a significant role to play.”
This publication is available to download at futurecarecapital.org.uk and will be discussed at greater length at the upcoming webinar Social Care: Technology and Transformation – register here now for free.
[i] Mental Health Today 2021, Mental health recovery plan announced by the government,