Taking a population approach to mental health

One in four people experience mental health issues, yet only 4% will access NHS services. Mental health is now seen as a national priority both within Scottish policy and by the NHS Long-Term Plan. It is clear to see why when it is one of the most common reasons to see your GP, accounts for 13.8% of all NHS spend and costs employers an average of £1,500 per person per year. 

The NHS Long Term Plan prioritises mental health through a detailed set of improvements and developments. However, improving access rates by 30% will put undue strain on the NHS workforce and needs digital enablement and technology to help empower people to manage their mental wellbeing with the support of the health system. 

Taking a population approach 

Mental health impacts every aspect of health and care, from managing a long-term condition to dealing with work stress, all the way through to severe mental health.  

Despite this, current pathways require a person’s emotional distress to become severe enough that they recognise the issue and seek help from a GP. 

Following this a referral is needed to access an appropriate service and only at that point may they be offered a digital therapeutic approach (along with a wide range of other services). Often mental health issues are pervasive across the health and care system. Thus, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way people can access help. Technology can enable and assist in this matter at the point of need.  

Solution versus platform 

Currently, if a patient needs help for depression, they may be offered one app. If they need help with sleep another and so forth. This negates the personal experience of the individual that may have multiple issues. Technology needs to change, moving from the “app fatigue” of delivering a single solution for each problem, towards treating the person through a single unified digital mental health platform.  

SilverCloud Health is taking on these challenges by offering a population-level digital mental health platform. This includes over 30 programmes and modules that allow people to access digital therapy whenever they need it, wherever they are and through any internet-enabled device. More than 250,000 people have completed treatment using SilverCloud with over 750,000 hours spent by people accessing digital therapy and is used by 70% of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) NHS services. 

Through taking a population-approach and by empowering people, the health and care system we will be able to radically impact the health of a nation. Please come and visit us at the FutureScot event and see SilverCloud in action.