Foundation takes UK lead on European digital mental health innovation project

27 September 2016

eMEN: unlocking the power of technology to improve Europe's mental health

The Mental Health Foundation is delighted to have been chosen as the UK partner in a new European Union-funded project to improve the quality of and access and availability to e-mental health support.

The €5.3million project, funded through the Interreg North West Europe Innovation Programme, will run until November 2019. eMEN is a collaboration led by the Netherlands with partners in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and the UK who combine technological, clinical, research and policy expertise.

Dr Iris Elliott, Head of Policy and Research, Mental Health Foundation, said:

“With mental health rising up the public policy agenda, there is a consensus that demand for mental health care outpaces provision. Increasingly, attention is focused on preventing mental health problems from developing and escalating, and empowering people to self-manage their mental health and support their peers.

“Digital mental health interventions, be that online treatment modules, apps, virtual reality or artificial intelligence, provide an amazing opportunity to deliver accessible, timely, quality assured support. They have specific potential for those people who are managing mental health problems at different stages of their life: while continuing their education, holding down a job, or parenting their family and/or living in rural areas.

“Innovations in e-mental health have the potential to improve access and availability to services. Furthermore, digital mental health presents significant business opportunities - particularly for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). But as with any innovations there will be as many, if not more dead ends, than breakthroughs. There is a need to collate information and distil lessons learnt to ensure that investment in digital mental health is put to the best possible use.”

For England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the direct benefits of participation in eMEN will include:

  • Knowledge exchange and network development with e-mental health leaders.
  • Opportunities to co-create the development of e-mental health in the UK and across the European Union.  
  • Enhanced knowledge and practical guidance about the implementation of digital mental health in services (including clinical governance, quality assurance, technical infrastructure, financing, data protection).
  • Support to develop the capability of health and social care workforces.
  • Enterprise opportunities for SMEs and e-developers. 
  • More effective and large scale take-up of digital mental health therapy.
  • A sustainable digital mental health policy agenda and business plan for Westminster, Holyrood, Senned and Stormont Governments.  

eMEN’s specific deliverables include:

  • a transnational cooperation platform for e-mental health innovation, testing and knowledge including a UK subdivision, tailored to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;
  • 1 new research method and test protocol for evidence based e-mental health interventions; and standardised testing for showing quality and effectiveness of e-mental health products;
  • 5 high quality existing e-mental health products, further developed and tested (for depression, anxiety and PTSD / psycho trauma) with at least one tested in the UK with 1300 end users); and
  • 15 SMEs receiving dedicated support and engagement with e-mental health developers across the 6 countries.

The aim of eMEN is to reach and speak to a large audience - including service providers; clinicians; people with lived experience of mental health problems and their families, friends and carers; policy makers and SMEs / e-mental health developers – but we anticipate that eMEN will be of interest to many others. Going forward there will be opportunities to engage with eMEN, not least through 6 transnational conferences and 18 transnational seminars that people will be able to join in person or virtually. One conference and three seminars will be held in the UK (one event each in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). The events will showcase the wide range of digital mental health interventions (online treatment modules, apps, virtual reality and artificial intelligence).

You can keep up to date with eMEN by following @eMEN_EU or registering for regular updates with eMEN@mentalhealth.org.uk. More information is available at www.mentalhealth.org.uk/eMEN.