How do traditional types of mental health services work together with newer types – such as online or through social media – and how can understanding this be used to improve the delivery of mental health services for young people with mental illness?

Transitions between 2018modes2019 of service delivery in youth mental health

Aims

This research will examine if and how 'traditional' and 'emergent' (e.g. online, mobile or through social media) mental health services in Oxfordshire work together, with a focus on services for young adults (18-35).

It will look at the effect that emergent methods may have on the design and management of mental health services for both the providers and the people who use them.

This information can then be used to give insights and recommendations towards an integrative, holistic model of service delivery for young people with mental illness in Oxfordshire.

Why this is important

In 2012/13 over 400,000 people aged 18-35 were using NHS mental health services (such as community mental health teams, psychiatrists, talk therapists, or hospital care).

People in this age group are increasingly using new, 'emergent', forms of mental health services, outside of the NHS. These may be in the form of social media, online and mobile based services, or other forms of software based service.

Some research has suggested that online or mobile phone based services can help to overcome barriers to accessing health services, and can help to remotely diagnose, monitor and treat patients with mental health issues.

Yet despite this, emergent ways of delivering care have often gone unnoticed by research looking at the delivery of mental health care.

If we want to deliver the best possible mental healthcare we need to understand how ‘traditional’ mental health services and newer ‘emergent’ services are working together for the people designing and using them.

Methods

This research will collect data through a combination of face-to-face interviews and focus groups.

Focus groups of 12-20 patients will be used to examine what these patients use as part of their ‘care package’, whether this affects their care by NHS services, if all the services they are using are reflected in their care plan, and how they learned of the services they are using.

The face-to-face interviews will be carried out with between 8 and 12 patients and around 36 NHS service providers involved in the care of these patients. The interviews will be used to create ‘case studies’ of how emergent services are used by patients, how aware NHS service providers are of their use, and how they affect care provided by the NHS.

How this could benefit patients

By understanding how ‘traditional’ and ‘emergent’ mental health services are working together we could begin to develop new mental health services for young people. Designing more efficient, effective and patient centred mental health services, which combine the best of both approaches.

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