By: Sarah
Posted: 05/06/2019

Sharing knowledge to build better mental health services

We believe in the collective power of many

We’re delighted to have taken part in Nominet’s recent report on Charities, young people and digital mental health services conducted by NPC.

As the report states, one in eight young people are classified as having a mental health issue, and over one in five children and young people have been found to have some evidence of mental ill health. It also covers the challenges that the charity sector has when developing and delivering digital mental health services that support young people.

NHS services like CAHMS are struggling to meet the demand, and over half of young people state there is no ‘adequate’ mental health support for them. On the back of this, there is a growing interest and exploration in how digital can meet the growing demand across the public, private and third sector.

We’re seeing the private sector move quickly to meet this need. With a lack of digital skills across charities and a restraint on acting quickly due to funding cycles — the charity sector is struggling to execute on the promise of digital.

Experimenting and exploring

Whether private, public or third sector we’re seeing a host of new apps, digital channels and experimental technologies being used to connect with users on mental health and other challenging topics. At Snook, we’ve also been experimenting, exploring what digital can do for mental health throughout several project collaborations.

In 2015 we worked with the Department for Education, Kent and Portsmouth University to explore new ways in which virtual reality could be used to create safe rooms for young people. It would allow them to work remotely with social workers to discuss traumatic experiences and prepare for leaving care.

Across 2013 to date, we’ve worked with Young Scot, Mental Health Foundation and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to explore how technology and social media has affected young people’s mental health and built a range of prototypes to address this, including our launched information and guidance service, Aye Mind.

Our current collaborations include working with Samaritans and clinical experts in the development of a self-help tool, which will give people resources to cope with suicidal thoughts and make an ongoing support plan so they can stay safe in a crisis.

Sharing learnings?

From working with charities like Addaction and Samaritans and hearing about the great work at Barnardos, we know there is a huge amount of knowledge about what works in practice. When it comes to the delivery of digital and holistic multi-channel services – we’ve learnt by doing, we know what works (and what doesn’t!).

My question has always been, how can we share this knowledge usefully across sectors and organisational boundaries to design and deliver better services at scale? We’re seeing some poor products enter the market. They are making mistakes – mistakes that could be avoided by  building on the rich knowledge that the charity or public sector often holds. In a prototyping phase it’s fine to test but how can we circumnavigate the poor design and delivery of services by investing in the rich knowledge of the sector. From academic studies, to frontline tactic knowledge, can we use this information to design superior products and services?

Help us build better mental health services

Our input into the report was primarily to discuss the need for funders to invest in the sector’s knowledge in the mental health sector.

As the report points out,

“… as young people are increasingly turning online, they are turning to privately developed services that don’t necessarily have the bedrock of years of evidenced practice that charities have”

We need to invest in opening up knowledge and doing this through networks. Our design for mental health pattern library work intends to be a part of the solution. We’re big believers in the collective impact of many. Our intention is to build knowledge of what works and publish it.

We’re looking for support for the pattern library and growing this network, if you’re interested, talk to us, and take a read of the report, which provides a backing for why this project is so important.


Want to get involved?

Let us know