2 Accessing mental health in Wales
In 2014, the Department of Health made improvement in mental health a key priority. Its first objective was to ensure that mental health had equal priority with that of physical health and its second was to reduce the gap between people with mental health problems and the rest of the population (Department of Health, 2014). Their vision was that everyone who needs it should have access to an intervention, through the ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) programmes including children and young people. While the Department of Health aimed to reduce waiting times in accessing services, more people were being offered the service and as a result, waiting lists significantly increased. This is a particular issue in Wales, where a significant amount of the population reside in rural areas and at considerable distance from psychological therapeutic services.
In Cardiff, research is currently ongoing to evaluate the potential of digital technology to both reduce waiting times in accessing services and provide people experiencing mental health problems access to much-needed support.
Activity 2 My 24 hour app
Watch the video below, which features Sarah Cosgrove talking about her use of digital technology to help her to obtain support due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Transcript: Video 1 Digital support for PTSD
Next, answer the following questions and complete the grid below.
In what ways has the use of digital technology increased Sarah’s confidence, skill and knowledge in managing her symptoms? In what other ways has the use of digital technology led to improvements in care delivery?
Since using the app, Sarah has grown more confident in applying what she has learned in her everyday life; in particular, about managing her symptoms and realising they are a part of her condition. She also knows that she has a therapist available, and this knowledge gives her confidence that she has backup, should she need it, to manage her condition. Her confidence has increased significantly because now she feels able to socialise and has even got a dog which was a long-term goal for her to aspire towards.
The app has taught Sarah a number of strategies in which she can manage her condition such as being able to feel calm. She has also learned to be reflective by writing about what led to her PTSD and going over it again and again until she feels that she is less impacted by the events that led to it.
The app has assisted Sarah in finding out about her condition and the symptoms associated with it, and this has enabled her to normalise what is going on for a condition that sounds overwhelming at times and prevented Sarah from socialising.
The app has afforded Sarah a great deal of flexibility. She can use the app at any time, day or night, and is reassured that she has access to an intervention that makes her feel safe. Without the app Sarah may not have had timely access to psychological services when she needed it, which could have worsened her condition considerably. The app also gives Sarah more time, as the appointments she has with her therapist in person are not as long as they would normally be, but they still allow Sarah sufficient time to build a good relationship with her therapist which is an important part of therapy.
The researcher in the video also demonstrated the power of the app for people living in rural areas who would not be able to access psychological therapies.
Digital technology has the power to improve mental health and transform people’s quality of life.
You’ll continue with this theme in the next section, as you explore ways in which digital innovation is being used to enhance the wellbeing of babies in Scotland.