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Early Warning Signs of a Mental Health Tsunami: A Coordinated Response to Gather Initial Data Insights From Multiple Digital Services Providers

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Karen ElliottORCiD, Professor Marwa ElnahassORCiD, Dr Jan SmeddinckORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Introduction: The immediate impact of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) on morbidity Q17and mortality has raised the need for accurate and real-time data monitoring andcommunication. The aim of this study is to document the initial observations from multipledigital services providers during the COVID-19 crisis, especially those related to mentalhealth and well-being.Methods: We used email and social media to announce an urgent call for support.Digital mental health services providers (N = 46), financial services providers (N = 4),and other relevant digital data source providers (N = 3) responded with quantitativeand/or qualitative data insights. People with lived experience of distress, as serviceusers/consumers, and carers are included as co-authors.Results: This study provides proof-of-concept of the viability for researchers and privatecompanies to work collaboratively toward a common good. Digital services providersreported a diverse range of mental health concerns. A recurring observation is thatdemand for digital mental health support has risen, and that the nature of this demandhas also changed since COVID-19, with an apparent increased presentation of anxietyand loneliness.Conclusion: Following this study, we will continue to work with providers in morein-depth ways to capture follow-up insights at regular time points. We will also onboardnew providers to address data representativeness. Looking ahead, we anticipate theneed for a rigorous process to interpret insights from an even wider variety of sources inorder to monitor and respond to mental health needs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Inkster B, Digital Mental Health Data Insights Group, Elliott K, Elnahass M, Smeddinck J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Digital Health

Year: 2021

Volume: 2

Online publication date: 10/02/2021

Acceptance date: 22/12/2020

Date deposited: 12/02/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2673-253X

Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation


DOI: 10.3389/fdgth.2020.578902


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