29th August 2018

Over the last two years we have been working with the James Lind Alliance - and a range of people and organisations -  to identify the ten most pressing questions about digital technology for mental health. 1350 questions were submitted by people with lived experience and health professionals and, using the JLA methodology, we have filtered these down to the final top 10. It is our intention that these will guide the funders of research to ensure that future research is focused on answering these questions and that the potential of digital technology for mental health can be fully realised.  

The full results of the project have now been published in the Lancet Psychiatry and so we able to reveal the top 10 for the first time!

The Top 10 Questions!

  1. What are the benefits and risks of delivering mental health care through technology instead of face-to-face and what impact does the removal of face-to-face human interaction have?
  2. How do certain mental health conditions (e.g. depression) affect how people engage with technology?
  3. How can treatment outcomes be maximised by combining existing treatment options (medication, psychological therapies etc) with digital mental health interventions?
  4. At what point in the care pathway (e.g. crisis intervention, prevention, engagement, treatment, maintenance, and recovery) are digital interventions most safe and effective?
  5. How should apps for mental health be evaluated and endorsed?
  6. What impacts will the adoption of digital technology in mental health services have on capacity, access to services, waiting times and preferred appointment times?
  7. Are therapies (e.g. CBT) delivered via digital technology as effective as those delivered face-to-face?
  8. Can the common elements of therapy (e.g. empathy, gestures, non-verbal cues) that come from person-to-person interactions be maintained with digital technology interventions?
  9. Do digital health interventions increase reach and access to groups and people less well served by traditional mental health services (e.g. Black and ethnic minorities, men with depression, people in rural areas etc)?
  10. How can social media be used more effectively to bring people with mental health problems together and help them connect e.g.  in their communities, rather than isolating them in their homes?

The project and the Top 10 questions are discussed fully in our Lancet Psychiatry paper and also in a blog by John Torous (Director of the Digital Psychiatry Division, in the Department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching hospital) for The Mental Elf website. 

Read the full paper: The Lancet Psychiatry JLA Top 10 paper

The Mental Elf Blog: https://elfi.sh/2o2byFs

Download the Top 10 Questions: pdfJLA_Top_10_questions.pdf

What do you think? 

Now that we have the top 10, the next steps are to discuss how these can best be answered, through new research projects, methods and partnerships. Join in the discussion on twitter via #digitalMHQ and re-tweet to your networks. 

Scout has made a new video to introduce the Top 10 questions and explain why this project is so important!


For more information, visit http://www.mindtech.org.uk/research/digital-technology-for-mental-health-the-top-10-questions/digital-technology-for-mental-health-asking-the-right-questions