"We’ve shown that it’s possible for a large number of providers to work together across borders to rapidly gather valuable insights"

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How digital providers supported global mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

New research published shows how digital providers around the world are coming together to support people’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A woman receiving online mental health treatment at home via video calling

Minddistrict were delighted to be given the opportunity to contribute to the study, led by Dr Becky Inkster from the University of Cambridge and published in Frontiers in Digital Health on 10 February. The aim of the study is to record insights from digital health providers around the world, to create a picture of the role being played by these services in relation to people’s mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Providers and experts from over 20 countries have contributed from a wide range of services including healthcare platforms, digitally-enabled treatments, wellbeing apps and chatbots.

Increased demand in digital support

The initial results of the study show that the pandemic is having a negative impact on people’s mental health, with digital service providers such as Minddistrict reporting a demand in support. The nature of this demand has also seen a shift since the pandemic, according to contributors, with an apparent increase in anxiety and loneliness compared to usual. The study presents positive insights, too – such as the rise in virtual companionship for older people, as well as the enthusiasm for collaboration between researchers and private companies to work towards a shared goal of improving people’s mental health.

“If we’re to be ready for the pandemic’s long-lasting impact on mental health, we need to get an accurate and broad picture of the situation we’re facing” said Dr Inkster. “We’ve shown that it’s possible for a large number of providers to work together across borders to rapidly gather valuable insights," she added. "This could be used to set up an integrated digital system to better understand and respond to people’s mental health needs on a global scale in real-time.”

The study will be ongoing, with follow-up insights due to be captured regularly, as well as new providers coming onboard to contribute.

More on the study

Many of the digital providers who contributed to the study also presented their findings at Dr Inkster’s annual Digital Innovation in Mental Health Conference, held in August 2020. Below, you can view Minddistrict’s contribution to the conference ‘Digitally enabled care in times of a pandemic’.


Get in touch to see how Minddistrict can support mental healthcare services with providing care digitally.