Charities, young people and digital mental health services

One in eight young people are classified as having a mental health issue, and over one in five children and young people have been found to have some evidence of mental ill health.

Young people are looking for mental health support where they look for everything else, online. Digital mental health services give young people anonymity, privacy and convenience but there is little evidence of their efficacy at tackling mental health problems.

Charities, with their years of experience in this field, have the potential to provide digital services that could really benefit young people, and may support conditions that are too rare or serious for private providers to profitably produce products for. But the barriers to entry are high. While development of digital initiatives can be done relatively cheaply, converting them to products, scaling them, and bringing them to market is an expensive process which few charities have the skills or the resources to do.

This paper reviews the landscape of both private, charity and NHS digital mental health provision for young people. It explores how services are suited to certain conditions and the features which makes services appealing to young people. It also explores what the level of capacity is in charities to develop these services and suggests strategies by which funders can support charities to do more in this area in future.

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