Mental health network

The future’s digital: mental health and technology


25 / 09 / 2014

Digital technology has the potential to transform mental health services. This report examines what the digital revolution means for the provision of NHS mental health services and recommends a way forward.

The use of digital technology to improve health outcomes has the potential to transform the face of the NHS. Digital technology presents us with new ways of delivering services more efficiently and effectively, as well as enabling us continue with the journey of changing the culture of our services. Service users and their families have very different expectations today of both services and professionals.

The rise of the recovery model, the importance of shared decision making, and wider societal and technological change have all influenced those changing attitudes and expectations. Increasingly, the public will want to use digital technology to engage with services in different ways, and make use of the information and data to understand and manage their conditions better.

This report examines what the digital revolution means for the provision of NHS mental health services and recommends a direction of travel for moving forward. Our conclusions and recommendations are based on a combination of interviews with key figures in the field, feedback from a workshop involving professionals and service users across a local health economy, plus a survey of providers of mental health services.

We highlight a number of specific issues our recommendations are designed to address and set out a number of actions to be taken forward by the Department of Health, NHS England, other national bodies, local providers and commissioners, to make progress in this area.

We hope that this report stimulates debate and begins the process of building a consensus – among professionals, policymakers and service users – about the way ahead.

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