This paper makes a case for digital mental health and provides insights into how digital technologies can enhance (but not replace) existing mental health services. We describe digital mental health by presenting a suite of digital technologies (from digital interventions to the application of artificial intelligence). We discuss the benefits of digital mental health, for example, a digital intervention can be an accessible stepping-stone to receiving support. The paper does, however, present less-discussed benefits with new concepts such as ‘poly-digital’, where many different apps/features (e.g. a sleep app, mood logging app and a mindfulness app, etc.) can each address different factors of wellbeing, perhaps resulting in an aggregation of marginal gains. 


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Key takeaways

  • “Digital technologies can be used to augment existing mental health services without replacing them, and act as a kind of ‘digital glue’ to improve the user experience and future proof services for future generations.”
  • “Digital technologies can be used to facilitate the collection of high quality data and repeated measures (both digital phenotyping and EMA) from clients outside of therapy in order to better inform the service provider and to improve the quality of the time spent with the client face to face.”
  • “Digital mental health interventions can increase the accessibility of support (24/7) and can also be used as a ‘non-stigmatising’ and ‘anonymous’ stepping stone to receiving support.”
  • “A digital mental health platform could provide a personalised set of apps or features (creating a tailored poly-digital ecosystem) to an individual which could collectively result in an aggregation of marginal gains.”
  • “…consult all stakeholders in the design of digital mental health technologies, for example, we should consider the client needs, the reliability of the technology and the endorsements of the healthcare professionals.”
  • “…consider all ethical aspects of deploying different kinds of digital technologies in mental health.”


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