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Digital mental health platforms

02 April 2023
Volume 31 · Issue 4


With the widespread prevalence of mental health problems, digital platforms for mental healthcare are increasingly commonly used. This article explores what this means for services.

With mental health problems affecting a substantial proportion of the population, digital platforms are increasingly commonly used for mental healthcare in the modern world. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE, 2023) has now issued conditional recommendations on technologies that can be used.

Globally, around one in five people will experience some type of mental disorder (meeting the criteria for a diagnosis) over a 12-month period, and nearly a third of adults will experience mental ill health at least once during their lifetime (Steel et al, 2014). These problems are a major burden for individuals and for society, leading to reduced quality of life, relationship difficulties, impaired occupational and educational performance and an elevated risk of mortality. Mental health problems are also strongly associated with physical illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic pain, diabetes mellitus and asthma.

In the general population, around 5% of people experience either depression or anxiety at a severity that warrants clinical diagnosis, while substantially larger proportions have been identified in studies using self-report scales (Bromet et al, 2011; McManus et al, 2016). In women who are pregnant or have recently given birth, mental health problems affect one in five women in the perinatal period (NICE, 2019). These issues can continue affecting women for up to 1 year after birth, and include include perinatal depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, postpartum psychosis and postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (Mind, 2020).

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