Welcome to Digital Technology for Mental Health: Asking the right questions

jlalogo transparent backgroundThis MindTech-led project is about people working together to find the top ten research priorities for digital technology for mental health. 

Online support groups, smartphone apps, computer games, virtual reality, virtual therapists, robots....so many big ideas emerging about how digital technology can be used for mental health. But what’s the best way to use the technology?

The ‘Asking the right questions’ project aims to decide the 10 most pressing questions about digital technology for mental health and share these with researchers so that future research targets these priorities. To make sure that they are grounded in the everyday experience of mental health, these questions will come from people with lived experience of mental health problems and health and social care professionals.

Huge opportunities to transform mental health care are offered by the internet, online services and the full range of digital technologies. But we need to know much more about the impacts of these new technologies. We are interested in understanding what research questions people with lived experience of mental health problems and health and social care professionals have about these new technologies. This collaborative project aims to identify these research questions and then decide which matter the most and deserve priority attention. Working with the James Lind Alliance  as one of their Priority Setting Partnerships will enable us to achieve this. 

What do we mean by Digital Technology for Mental Health?

The internet and the way new ‘apps’ and systems are used on computers and mobile devices have the potential to transform mental health care. These types of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offer people who use services greater access to information and connect people, services and health data in new ways. From an app on your mobile phone right through to ‘Big Data’, new possibilities are emerging all the time.

Why do we need to know more about research priorities?

While the potential of digital technology to transform mental healthcare is recognised, the evidence base for how this transformation can happen is sparse. More research is needed, but at the same time, we need to target limited research and development resource to areas that meet the needs of people who access services and the clinicians supporting them. All too often research priorities are set by academics or industry. We think understanding more about the research priorities wanted by service users, their supporters and clinicians, will enable the NHS to better realise the digital revolution.

What is a James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership?

The James Lind Alliance (JLA) is a non-profit making initiative, established in 2004. It brings patients, carers and clinicians together in Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs). These partnerships identify and prioritise uncertainties, or ‘unanswered questions’, about the effects of treatments that they agree are the most important. The aim of this is to help ensure that those who fund health research are aware of what really matters to both patients and clinicians.

In our project we are aiming to find out what matters most to people who have direct knowledge of mental health care and treatment and how digital technology is impacting on this. Whether that’s personal lived experience of mental health problems or experience as a mental health professional, all views are considered equal and by working together we want to make a real difference to future research.

Who is involved in this project?

It’s a partnership project bringing together people with different expertise and perspectives.

There’s a Steering Group made up of mainly people who have lived experience of mental health problems and health professionals – this group leads the project and oversees the project work.

We are working with a wide range of Project Partners who will help spread the word about the project helping it reach all those who can share their views, experiences and perspectives.

The project is guided by a protocol which has been agreed by all members of the Steering Group. 
pdfMindTech JLA PSP Protocol

How can you get involved?

If you have lived experience of mental health problems, or support someone who does or work as a health professional in health or social care services we want to hear from you. Contact us for more information and look out for the survey where you can tell us about your priorities for digital technology for mental health (expected in spring 2017).

If you are connected to an organisation that is interested in digital technology for mental health, you can sign up and become a partner on the project.

Whether you are a partner or not, you can also:
More information