The question should not be what are Mobiles doing to our Mental Health but what they could be doing for it

Lot’s of scepticism and misdirected concerns about privacy kicked off last nights Digital Mental Health Question Time at UCL #MHQT but I think Mark Brown, Development Director, Social Spider made some great points:

“we’re in the age of ubiquitous computing. People carry with them the most amazingly powerful tiny computers called Smartphones. We tend if we’re not careful to see these little tiny computers as just vehicles for apps but they’re much more than that. They can process information, they can collect data, they can receive and broadcast, they can augment one reality on another, and they can even make phonecalls sometimes. People choose to carry these amazing devices because they love them and because these devices make sense in their world and of their world…   …we keep asking the arse about face question what is digital technology doing to our health when we could be asking what can digital technology be doing for our health…”

I find it’s useful to put this in context by reminding people that the iPhone in their pocket has a faster computer processor that the one in the cart on the Surgical Robot that cost £10Million and you’ll find if you wander over to UCL’s Surgical Robot Vision Research Group, and sharing with them the 8 identified unique attributes of Mobile (the newest mass media).

Puffin O’Hanlon, Researcher, UCL shared some fascinating experiences that explained some of the inability the NHS has to innovate with mHealth (UCL mental Health professionals urgently need to take the mHealth course I developed before they waste any more money stocking cupboards with technology they don’t understand – and to think they’ve just placed an order for a £400Million EHR from EPIC!!!!!) and the need for support as they they try to move Clinicans beyond the office visit only model:

“39min …in one NHS service that we were working in all staff were given iPads and they’ve had them for a couple of years now, it was assumed that they would take them up and use them to engage with clients through the new React website. The iPads were provided for staff to use a new app for out of office access to trust IT systems. A minority of staff now use the iPads enthusiastically in their work with clients making activity diaries, watching YouTube videos, using Google Maps or doing Mindfulness exercises. But the majority of those iPads remain in the cupboards where they were tidied to over a year ago. They became Digital Misfits. The iPads didn’t fit with the staff’s skill sets. Having been trained in the app and not the iPad many staff lacked the skills and the confidence to use it…

…there are pockets of digital enthusiasm and there seems to be a general recognition of the benefits of digital interventions but again and again I’ve heard variants of ‘it’s better than nothing’ or ‘it can’t beat sitting down with a real person’, or ‘is it going to take my job?’. This narrative isn’t universal but it does seem to be pervasive, it’s something like this: ‘while digital interventions may have their uses they are essentially second rate, low cost, externally imposed substitutes for face-to-face support and it’s really truly difficult to get enthusiastic about second best as it feels too much like we’re giving up on providing high quality care”

Geraldine Strathdee, National Clinical Lead, Mental Health Intelligence Network makes a great call for the NHS to make record sharing a priority (I think the reason we don’t is a combination of the fact that Medics haven’t been trained to encourage Patients to use the internet and they all know that access to records encourages Patients to conduct research together with the countless other good intentioned ‘digital innovations’ that are distracting people from the basics eg. nonsense like WiFi in GP waiting rooms):

“44Min How can we get the basics right for people with mental health problems?   …In 1982 when I was a SHO I did a study on a medium secure mental health unit where we shared records, paper based records, with the Patients and everyday co produced the care plan and there was shock – I remember people in Guy’s saying ‘oh my God there will be absolute violence and notes will get ripped off and people will be kind of running around and actually it was one of the safest medium secure units with people feeling much more able to get on with the plan, much more owning it and they could go on with the record. What are we today? 2017? Where in the country are people able to look at their records and do something with them? The person who inspires me the most is Dr Amir Hannan up in Oldham of all places. Highly deprived Oldham with 40 languages spoken in his Practice and 70% of the people from that highly deprived area including particularly people with mental health problems and obstetric things have access to their records in his practice. Why don’t we make that basic  human right to feel empowered, to understand and see your own information. Why don’t we make that a big priority?”

Related mHealth Insight blog posts: 

Digital Health: that must cost a bomb.

“Here’s my mobile phone number” is now one of the most caring things a Healthcare Professional can say.

Perhaps it’s time we stopped saying “Go and Get Help”?

About 3G Doctor

The Corporate Blog of 3G Doctor
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