The technology landscape mirrors the world’s struggle to regain its equilibrium post-COVID. New apps and telehealth solutions pop up in our feeds each week, offering respite while traditional mental health services struggle more each day.
Suicide is now the second-highest cause of death among teenagers, surging mental health diagnoses have had an estimated $1 trillion annual impact on the global economy, and the pandemic is set only to worsen this devastating situation.
While vaccines have led to promising psychological wellbeing boosts – a Center for Economic and Social Research survey reported a 4% and 15% reduction in the risk of respondents experiencing mild and severe depression following their first dose – there remains an urgent need to ensure services are ready to support patients and workforces who have suffered during the pandemic.
Since March 2020, NHS staff took 6.5 million days of leave due to anxiety, depression, burnout, and PTSD. Contrasted with the 3.8 million days taken due to COVID itself, this is a clear warning that, as the Laura Hyde Foundation support charity’s chairman Liam Barnes stressed, “we must do more to protect those who dedicate their lives to protecting us.”
Urgent warnings for the NHS as demand grows
Just this week, the Royal College of Psychiatrists stressed that the “catastrophic” mental health backlog runs the risk of undoing any progress made over the past years. NHS England estimates 1.6 million people continue to see delays to treatment, but the College believes the true number far exceeds this. Urgent and sustained investment is needed to prevent the sector from backsliding.
Our predictive analysis reflected this: models generated by RwHealth’s Data Science Platform (DSP) highlight that these immense backlogs will only grow as demand continues to surge. With substantial strain already being seen across the NHS, frontline teams urgently need the support of intuitive and innovative technology that harnesses the full potential of data.
What can we do for the NHS?
Mental health appears not to have been included in the £5.4 billion announced for “NHS pandemic recovery and backlog clearing”. In lieu of such means, it will be vital for providers to take the reins and make use of what is available to ensure the continued delivery of one of the strongest mental health services globally.
June 2021 saw the most people seeking support since records began; the need for demand-capacity alignment is more crucial than ever. A critical component of this is enhancing patient flow through mental health services – driving time and resource efficiency without sacrificing quality of care. As we support our mental health partners in maintaining this critical balance, our analysis has identified key components of the current and future mental health landscape. Detailed insights can be found in our full September sector report, which is available here.
Recognising the double-edged sword of growing patient need and immense workforce pressures, RwHealth continues to work with providers nationwide to build dynamic models and vital insights at a real-time and predictive level. Our tools apply advanced AI/ML and data-driven technology to ensure frontline staff have a full understanding of the current and developing situation, allowing for proactive measures that ensure standards of care and organisational efficiency do not suffer from COVID’s impacts.
For those who wish to explore the opportunities provided by the DSP, please contact Muna Yusuf by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.