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Early Warning Signs of a Mental Health Tsunami: A Coordinated Response to Gather Initial Data Insights From Multiple Digital Services Providers

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Inkster, Becky 
Digital Mental Health Data Insights Group (DMHDIG) 


Introduction: The immediate impact of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) on morbidity and mortality has raised the need for accurate and real-time data monitoring and communication. The aim of this study is to document the initial observations from multiple digital services providers during the COVID-19 crisis, especially those related to mental health and well-being. Methods: We used email and social media to announce an urgent call for support. Digital mental health services providers (N = 46), financial services providers (N = 4), and other relevant digital data source providers (N = 3) responded with quantitative and/or qualitative data insights. People with lived experience of distress, as service users/consumers, and carers are included as co-authors. Results: This study provides proof-of-concept of the viability for researchers and private companies to work collaboratively toward a common good. Digital services providers reported a diverse range of mental health concerns. A recurring observation is that demand for digital mental health support has risen, and that the nature of this demand has also changed since COVID-19, with an apparent increased presentation of anxiety and loneliness. Conclusion: Following this study, we will continue to work with providers in more in-depth ways to capture follow-up insights at regular time points. We will also onboard new providers to address data representativeness. Looking ahead, we anticipate the need for a rigorous process to interpret insights from an even wider variety of sources in order to monitor and respond to mental health needs.



Digital Health, COVID-19, financial stress, isolation, anxiety, data insights, digital mental health

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