This theme is led by Professor Lina Gega
In Aesop's ancient fable “Man and Satyr”, the satyr saw the man blow on his hands on a cold winter's day and asked why. The man responded: “so that I can warm them up; can't you see how cold it is?”
When they sat down to eat, the man cut a piece of his roast and blew on it before he ate it. The satyr asked why. The man responded: “so that it cools down; can't you see how hot it is?” The satyr, indignantly, walked away. “That's enough,” he said. “I can no longer be your friend since I see you blowing hot and cold with the same breath.” (Aboujaoude and Gega, 2020).
Digital technology blows hot and cold with the same breath when it comes to mental health because it can be both therapeutic and problematic at the same time. Our research focuses on the clinical utility and economic value of digital technologies as means to specialist interventions for adults, children and young people affected by mental health problems. Our research also considers the challenges, costs and risks associated with technology use in mental health care. We collaborate with service users, health professionals, software engineers, game designers, graphic artists, interactive media specialists, social scientists, health economists and statisticians, to develop digital interventions and evaluate their clinical, educational, societal, ethical and economic impact.
ComBAT stands for Community-based Behavioural Activation Training. Funded by the National Institute for Health Research, this large programme of research aims to upskill staff in schools, youth services and charities to offer behavioural activation to adolescents with depression and to evaluate the intervention’s acceptability, effectiveness and value for money.
I See Me Do
I See Me Do refers to the phenomenon of real-time self-observation through chroma-key video capture in digital films. Funded by the Medical Research Council, the project aims to produce a series of virtual environments that enable children to practise social communication skills in specially scripted and filmed scenarios through seeing themselves interact on a screen with actors, in real time, while a facilitator controls the actors’ responses in a “Wizard of Oz” paradigm.
CODI stands for Costs and Outcomes of Digital Interventions in Mental Health. Funded by National Institute for Health Research, this is a series of evidence syntheses of clinical and economic studies on digital interventions for mental health and addiction problems. An economic model is developed using generalised anxiety disorder as an exemplar clinical condition.
DIG4IT stands for Digital Intervention Games for Implementing Therapy. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, this project brings together young people, therapists and games designers to produce a digital game that enables children to learn a specialist therapy technique, called graded exposure therapy, to overcome specific phobias.