Health Innovation Manchester has big ambitions with the stated aim of making the city one of the most innovative health and social care systems in the world.
It is piloting a range of digital health initiatives supporting existing local work to widen access to services, particularly among those struggling with the new social restrictions due to the pandemic.
One of the initiatives is SHOUT a confidential 24/7 text service run by volunteers to support people in crisis. The volunteer offers support and also a signposting service to people struggling with issues such as anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, abuse, self-harm, bullying or relationship issues.
The service is confidential, free and it will not show up on phone bills.
Another scheme is Kooth, an online counselling and emotional wellbeing platform for children and young people. It has been expanded to a wider area in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and is available for any youngster struggling with their mental health.
It is aimed at 11-18-year-olds and includes a live chat function with a qualified counsellor, chat forums with other young people, crisis information, and self-help resources.
Manchester is also trialing BlueIce, an app for young people who self-harm. It was originally developed by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and is available through Manchester CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services). It includes a mood diary, techniques to reduce distress and automatic routing to emergency numbers if urges to self-harm continue.
Another service promoted by Health Innovation Manchester is Silver Cloud, an online therapy programme for adults with stress, anxiety, low-mood and depression.
Each programme uses evidence-based approaches including cognitive behavioural therapy and all information entered is anonymous, confidential and secure.