E-therapies in England for Stress, Anxiety or Depression: What Is Being Used in the NHS? A Survey of Mental Health Services

BMJ Open. 2017 Jan 23;7(1):e014844. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014844.

Abstract

Objective: To document the range of web and smartphone apps used and recommended for stress, anxiety or depression by the National Health Service (NHS) in England.

Design: The study was conducted using Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and systematic website searches.

Data sources: Data were collected via FOI requests to NHS services between 13 February 2015 and 31 March 2015, and searches conducted on NHS apps library websites between 26 March 2015 and 2 November 2015.

Data collection/extraction methods: Data were compiled from responses to: (1) FOI requests sent to all Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services and NHS Mental Health Trusts in England and (2) NHS apps library search results.

Results: A total of 61 (54.95%) out of the then 111 IAPT service providers responded, accounting for 191 IAPT services, and all 51 of the then NHS Mental Health Trusts responded. The results were that 13 different web apps and 35 different smartphone apps for depression, anxiety or stress were available through either referral services or the online NHS Apps Libraries. The apps used and recommended vary by area and by point of access (online library/IAPT/trust).

Conclusions: Future research is required to establish the evidence base for the apps that are being used in the NHS in England. There is a need for service provision to be based on evidence and established guidelines.

Keywords: England; NHS; anxiety; depression; e-therapies; stress.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • England
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Health Services
  • Mobile Applications
  • Psychotherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Remote Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self-Help Groups
  • State Medicine
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*