Mental health therapy apps to be offered by NHS

Two apps designed to offer mental health therapy have become available on the NHS in Scotland.

Sleepio and Daylight, which offer cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia and anxiety respectively, were offered free of charge to health workers during the pandemic by developer Big Health.

This has now been expanded across NHS Scotland, with the apps available 24/7 to users in all health boards.

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The two apps are also available in some parts of England.

Lisa Maynard, a care worker in Dundee, has already used the app Sleepio.

Mental Wellbeing and Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart said the Covid-19 pandemic had underlined the potential of digital mental healthcare technologies.

“Digital technologies have massive potential to help people manage and support their mental health in a way that feels right for them,” he said.

"We are working with NHS Scotland to combine traditional in-person services with technology enabled solutions, allowing us to reach people with the right treatment at the right time.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has only affirmed what we knew from the beginning - digital mental health is critical to help scale much-needed services and provide additional choice for people to manage their mental health.

"After assessing the effectiveness of Daylight and Sleepio, we are pleased to launch these treatments nationwide, providing clinically validated solutions for those who need it most.”

The Scottish Government announced a decade-long commitment to mental healthcare in 2017, establishing new policy and clinical services focused on improving mental health access and outcomes.

Dr. Charlotte Lee, UK Director of Big Health, said: “By increasing the options for evidenced-based mental health help at the point of need, Scotland is the only country to truly exploit the potential for digital therapeutics.”

Big Health was co-founded by Professor Colin Espie, a Scot and professor of sleep medicine at Oxford University.

Lisa Maynard, 42, a social care worker based in Dundee, had access to Sleepio on the NHS when it was rolled out to care workers.

She struggled to sleep during the first lockdown while homeschooling her six-year-old, but found the app has “changed her life”.

“Although it's online, you never feel alone and I believe it’s the closest option to in-person training,” she said.

"There were chat forums to share experiences with others, and daily interaction with an online check list and sleep diary.”

She added: “It felt like a really personalised experience.”

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