NICE to assess impact of digital therapies on mental health

NICE is to start assessing new digital therapies that will help treat more people with anxiety and depression.

Guided self-help is recommended by NICE guidance to help treat mild to moderate anxiety and depression since it can track people’s mood and give advise on breathing exercises.

As part of NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, NICE has been asked to assess the impact of digital applications or computer programmes, which will be used simultaneously with face-to-face theory.

Developers of such applications are being invited to submit their product to NICE to see if it meets the criteria to be entered into the new programme. Applications will be assessed for its content, its effectiveness, and its cost.

Over the next two years, NICE’s expert panel will review the data gained from the applications and decide if the digital therapy should be adopted for use across the whole of NHS England’s IAPT service.

Dr Paul Chrisp, programme director of the medical and technologies programme at NICE, said: “Digital interventions, along with the more traditional face-to-face therapy, can offer people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression a flexible, but guided way of helping them get better. The aim of this programme is to give more people access to digital therapies that have been assessed and shown to be as cost effective as face-to-face therapy. Digital therapies will not be used on their own, and patients should be reassured that they will still see therapists in person.”

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