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Opportunities for the Implementation of a Digital Mental Health Assessment Tool in the United Kingdom: Exploratory Survey Study.

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Peer-reviewed

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Type

Article

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Every year, one-fourth of the people in the United Kingdom experience diagnosable mental health concerns, yet only a proportion receive a timely diagnosis and treatment. With novel developments in digital technologies, the potential to increase access to mental health assessments and triage is promising. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to investigate the current state of mental health provision in the United Kingdom and understand the utility of, and interest in, digital mental health technologies. METHODS: A web-based survey was generated using Qualtrics XM. Participants were recruited via social media. Data were explored using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: The majority of the respondents (555/618, 89.8%) had discussed their mental health with a general practitioner. More than three-fourths (503/618, 81.4%) of the respondents had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, with the most common diagnoses being depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Diagnostic waiting times from first contact with a health care professional varied by diagnosis. Neurodevelopmental disorders (30/56, 54%), bipolar disorder (25/52, 48%), and personality disorders (48/101, 47.5%) had the longest waiting times, with almost half (103/209, 49.3%) of these diagnoses taking >6 months. Participants stated that waiting times resulted in symptoms worsening (262/353, 74.2%), lower quality of life (166/353, 47%), and the necessity to seek emergency care (109/353, 30.9%). Of the 618 participants, 386 (62.5%) stated that they felt that their mental health symptoms were not always taken seriously by their health care provider and 297 (48.1%) were not given any psychoeducational information. The majority of the respondents (416/595, 77.5%) did not have the chance to discuss mental health support and treatment options. Critically, 16.1% (96/595) did not find any treatment or support provided at all helpful, with 63% (48/76) having discontinued treatment with no effective alternatives. Furthermore, 88.3% (545/617) of the respondents) had sought help on the web regarding mental health symptoms, and 44.4% (272/612) had used a web application or smartphone app for their mental health. Psychoeducation (364/596, 61.1%), referral to a health care professional (332/596, 55.7%), and symptom monitoring (314/596, 52.7%) were the most desired app features. Only 6.8% (40/590) of the participants said that they would not be interested in using a mental health assessment app. Respondents were the most interested to receive an overall severity score of their mental health symptoms (441/546, 80.8%) and an indication of whether they should seek mental health support (454/546, 83.2%). CONCLUSIONS: Key gaps in current UK mental health care provision are highlighted. Assessment and treatment waiting times together with a lack of information regarding symptoms and treatment options translated into poor care experiences. The participants' responses provide proof-of-concept support for the development of a digital mental health assessment app and valuable recommendations regarding desirable app features.

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Keywords

assessment, development, digital mental health, implementation, mental health, mobile phone, provision, support

Journal Title

JMIR Form Res

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

2561-326X
2561-326X

Volume Title

7

Publisher

JMIR Publications Inc.
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