The role of technology in mental healthcare

Policy Briefing

Published 28/04/2022

The role of technology in mental healthcare Page 1

Our briefing note explores the ethical and social issues arising from the use of technology in mental healthcare.

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Emerging technologies for the assessment, monitoring, and treatment of mental health conditions are advancing quickly and have the potential to expand the choice of treatment options available and to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. To ensure that mental health technology works for all, there is a need to improve the evidence base for the effectiveness and safety of mental health technologies, ensure appropriate regulatory frameworks to help users, clinicians and developers navigate the market, and involve potential users, their families, and care professionals in the development of technology. It is important that technology improves existing inequalities in access to care and does not exacerbate them. Technology solutions should not divert resources from other important interventions and forms of mental health support, such as increasing social interactions and tackling the social determinants of poor mental health.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Dr Becky Inkster (Cambridge University; UK and self-employed advisor), Dr Christopher Burr (Alan Turing Institute), Prof. Martyn Pickersgill (The University of Edinburgh), Dr Sarah Morgan (Cambridge University), Dr Tom Foley (Health Service Executive Ireland; Newcastle University) and Rethink Mental Illness for reviewing a draft of this briefing note. We would also like to thank everyone who took part in the engagement sessions who shared their personal experiences and views so articulately and honestly.