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Psychol Psychother. 2019 Jun;92(2):277-297. doi: 10.1111/papt.12222. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

The digital revolution and its impact on mental health care.

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Division of Psychology and Mental Health, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, UK.
Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, UK.
School of Health in Social Science, The University of Edinburgh, UK.


The digital revolution is evolving at an unstoppable pace. Alongside the unprecedented explosion of digital technology facilities and systems, mental health care is under greater pressure than ever before. With its emphasis on big data, computing power, mobile technology, and network information, digital technology is set to transform health care delivery. This article reviews the field of digital health technology assessment and intervention primarily in secondary service mental health care, including the barriers and facilitators to adopting and implementing digitally mediated interventions in service delivery. We consider the impact of digitally mediated communication on human interaction and its potential impact on various mental states such as those linked to mood, anxiety but also well-being. These developments point to a need for both theory- and data-driven approaches to digital health care. We argue that, as developments in digital technology are outpacing the evaluation of rigorous digital health interventions, more advanced methodologies are needed to keep up with the pace of digital technology development. The need for co-production of digital tools with and for people with chronic and mental health difficulties, and implications of digital technology for psychotherapy practice, will be central to this development. PRACTITIONER POINTS: Mental health problems are one of the main causes of global and societal burden and are a growing public health. People with mental health problems around the world have limited, if any, chance of accessing psychological help at all. Technological innovations and solutions are being considered in an attempt to address the size and scale of the mental health crisis worldwide. Digital platforms allow people to self-monitor and self-manage in a way that face-to-face/paper-based methods of assessment have up until now not allowed. We provide examples of digital tools that are being developed and used in the secondary setting and identify a number of challenges in the digital health field that require careful consideration.


digital health; mHealth; mental health; psychosis; technology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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