National Health Service watchdog National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has stated in the new guidelines that children between 5-18 years of age suffering from mild depression should be able to get Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). As a result of the new guidelines, general practitioners will be able to prescribe digital CBT to children and young adults which can be accessed through tablets, computers and smartphones.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people develop resilience to cope with life’s demands. CBT involves a qualified therapist who helps the patient learn techniques and skills to understand and manage thoughts, moods and emotions. While traditional CBT involves a face-to-face therapy session with a professional, digital CBT offers the individual online help through mobile application and modules.
Modules include tasks to monitor negative thought, answering question for identifying dysfunctional thoughts and writing down feelings.
Some ongoing programmes identifies children with suicidal thoughts and refers them to doctors and mental health professionals. Often children have to wait for longer time to get help. NICE said that digital CBT will reduce waiting time and give young adults and children suffering from mild depression faster access to treatment. It has recommended the treatment for mild depression patients and not to children with suicidal thoughts or severe depression.
The guidelines also recommend group CBT while also recommending the doctors to take into consideration the child or carer’s special needs and preferences.
NHS England, National Mental Health Director Claire Murdoch said that as younger generation is at the forefront of adapting to new technological changes, the NHS has taken another step towards ensuring support to patient’s suffering from depression by the use of digital and online intervention backed by face-to-face interview. Dr. Bernadka Dubicka from Royal College of Psychiatrists said that there is huge demand for treatment from young adults and children and digital CBT can offer a solution. She added that therapy can be offered via digital as well as face-to-face mode according to the preferences of the individual.
Fiona Smith from Royal College of Nursing that digital intervention for treating depression and mental health problems is a welcome step as it is necessary to tackle these problems at the earliest possible stage. However, technology should not cause any reduction in the nursing workforce of the country especially mental health workers who work with patients and families to improve health. UK’s government reports that missed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain with approximately 7.8% of population suffering from it. Statistics also state that 4-10% of people in Britain will experience depression in their lifetime.