Digital technology is making it easier for people to access mental health support
10 Oct 23
The growth of digital technology means that more and more people are able to access mental health support from their own homes.
One of the initiatives that HPFT has been working on is a virtual assistant, Balm AI, which helps people reach the right information more quickly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has been used over 10,000 times and more than a third of those contacts are “out of hours” when it would be harder to reach staff for routine queries. The majority of queries are asking for self-help materials, followed by queries about depression & anxiety. Balm AI is being continually developed with better accessibility features, greater awareness of diversity and a wider range of resources made available.
The Trust is also developing a digital library working closely with service user and staff groups to grow and consolidate the information available. A digital library dedicated to mental health can offer equality and inclusion with access to vital information, reduce stigma, support self-help, and provide numerous benefits that contribute to better mental health outcomes for individuals and society as a whole. It can play a vital role in promoting mental health awareness, education, and support.
Other benefits that can be gained from having a digital library include:
- Access to clinician reviewed and approved information: Digital libraries provide easy and convenient access to a vast amount of information related to mental health. This includes articles, books, videos, and other resources that can help individuals better understand mental health conditions, treatments, and coping strategies.
- Safety and Security: As a Trusted NHS Trust service users and carers can be assured that all resources are valid, up-to-date and safe.
- Support for Self-Help: Digital libraries can offer self-help resources, such as articles and videos on stress management, mindfulness, and coping techniques. These resources empower individuals to take control of their mental well-being and develop healthy strategies for managing their mental health.
NHS Hertfordshire and Mid Essex Talking Therapies also offers a variety of online services which people can access from their own homes.
There is a wide range of confidential talking therapy treatments and practical support for adults with common mental health problems such as low mood, worry and sadness, stress and panic, and repetitive negative thoughts.
The service offers a programme of free NHS expert-led interactive live webinars covering a variety of topics including stress, sleep and relaxation, as well as worry and anxiety, mindfulness, and bereavement. A variety of dates and times are available, including evenings, to suit the needs of those over the age of 16.
A range of self-help videos, whiteboard animations and self-help guides are also available in a free library of online resources and provide users with easy and instant access to top tips from therapists. If after using the self-help materials they find that they would like further guidance and support, they can make a self-referral via the website.
For more information about Hertfordshire and Mid Essex Talking Therapies and to self-refer please visit: www.hpft-iapt.nhs.uk