Funding boost for regulation of digital mental health tools

  • Date: 10 October 2022

RESEARCH into the regulation of digital mental health tools in the UK has been given a £1.8 million funding boost by the charity Wellcome.

The money will be used to review the evidence base behind the tools and to help decide which ones should be regulated. The work also aims to assess the level of risk posed by different products, such as wellness apps, websites and software-based treatment interventions.

The project will be led by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Researchers plan to speak to “people with lived experience”, experts and patients, as well as international organisations.

Minister for Mental Health, Dr Caroline Johnson, said: “Digital mental health tools can be incredibly useful to help build resilience and prevent problems worsening, but it’s crucial these are regulated properly.

“This funding will help us to better understand these products and give us the tools to make sure everyone who uses them has access to safe, effective support.”

Johan Ordish, Head of Software and AI at the MHRA, said: “Digital mental health tools offer millions of people vital support and guidance to explore and help manage their mental health issues every day.

“However, there are a number of regulatory complexities in establishing when these products should be regulated and what evidence they must have to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

“We need to make sure that we are able to answer these questions, to ensure that patients can be confident in the choices they make to support their mental health.”

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