Digital Mental Health in Ireland: Effectiveness and the Future of the Service

Abiola Bamijoko-Okungbaye, Erhabor Sunday Idemudia

Abstract


Purpose: Mental disorders are serious concern in our society. In the era of digital technology, Telemental health and mental health apps are becoming an avenue where people seek mental health support, but in general very little is known about the effectiveness of the service considering the complexities surrounding mental disorder as a disease. In the light of COVID-19 pandemic, researchers noticed a spike in anxiety levels amongst the populace, prompting more people to use the service. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the users of the service to check the effectiveness, the cost of the service, and to ask whether users will opt for the service in the future.

Design and Methods: Three major questions were asked to adult participants (ages 18-35 years; n=50). Female participants(n-25) and Male participants (n-25).Within the semi-structured interviews, participants were also allowed to share their lived experiences to enhance this study. The questions are as follows: 1. The effectiveness of the service in terms of recovery 2. The cost of service 3. The question about the future use of the service. Differences in groups and research variables were compared across the demographics. To measure psychopathology, PHQ-9, GAD-7, SAQ, Insomnia Severity Index and ASI-Lite were used to evaluate the conditions and description of the participants. This evaluation is employed to validate the patient's threshold for Telemental health intervention. 

Results: The people that are more likely to use the service in the future were female (85%) than their male counterpart (64%), but the groups are similar concerning the effectiveness of the service. When controlled for gender, male (85%) and female (80%) were more satisfied with the service they receive and record a positive outlook of their conditions. Compared with first-time users of the service, regular users mention service providers as key to their recovery. Participants (18-35 years, n-50) describe depression, anxiety, addictions and insomnia as the reason for the use of the service, issues responsive to neuropsychotherapeutical and cognitive behavioural therapy. About the cost, the participants (68%) seem to be satisfied with the cost while (32%) would prefer cost re-duction. (Mean age-25.96 years) and (s.d-5.32). 

Implications: This data shows the effectiveness of Telemental health service. If expanded on a larger scale, it can take the pressure off the traditional mental health care system in Ireland, giving the practitioners time to focus on severe mental conditions. However, variables in the contextual description of patient's experiences will require value-based treatment where individual factors (bio-psycho-social analysis) are needed to be incorporated into the treatment. Besides, the data also reveals that continuous destigmatization of mental disorders will encourage men to opt for the service if societal judgment diminishes. Translating this data to the global data on mental disorders means that those regions, including rural areas without mental health support, that is, traditional mental health care infrastructure, their governments should be encouraged to implement Telemental health service as the effectiveness is confirmed through this data. This may help reduce the morbidity numbers linked with disorders globally, thus improving the well-being of patients. 


Keywords


Digital Mental health; Ireland; Mental disorders; CBT; Mental health; Neuropsychotherapy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18662/brain/11.2/74

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