Digital Mental Health Interventions Emerge As More Cost Affective And Accessible

May 24, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

Most individuals with obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (OCRDs) do not receive Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).  Digital mental health interventions (DMHIs) have emerged as a solution to the access this care gap between those who need mental health care and access to clinical services.

The paper published in the Journal of mental health interventions for Obsessive-Compulsive and related disorders reviews current evidence-based DMHIs for OCRDs and describes areas for future research.

What are Digital Mental Health Interventions (DMHIs)?

All OCRDs have been proven to benefit from cognitive behavioural treatment (CBT). But the majority of people with OCRDs do not receive CBT, and even among those who do, not everyone benefits equally from it.

The gap between people who require mental health care and those who can receive clinical services has widened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The epidemic sped up the uptake of digital solutions, which have been around for the past 20 years and have emerged as a way to close the access to care divide.

DMHIs have the potential to address unmet mental health needs by offering scalable, low-stigma, cost-effective solutions.

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Individuals with obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (OCRDs), including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), excoriation (skin-picking) disorder, hoarding disorder, suffer from distressing or impairing obsessive preoccupation and/or time-consuming compulsive behaviours. OCRDs are often severe, chronic, and associated with significant psychiatric comorbidity and functional impairment.

Treatment of OCRDs

To assist patients, retain treatment benefits, CBT for OCRDs focuses mostly on psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, and/or exposure response prevention. In general, CBT for OCRDs teaches people how to evaluate false and/or harmful beliefs, deal with situations that ordinarily prompt obsessions or repetitive behaviours (such as touching a surface that they believe to be contaminated in OCD), and learn how to telehealth.

What is telehealth?

Only a few short pilot studies evaluating telemedicine therapies had been conducted before the pandemic when psychotherapy, particularly CBT for OCRDs, was almost exclusively provided in face-to-face settings (Storch et al., 2011). However, the epidemic forced a required shift towards digital therapies, like teletherapy and videoconferencing. Telehealth CBT has been demonstrated to be just as effective as face-to-face CBT in lowering patient-level logistical barriers to treatment (Wootton, 2016).

Digital health interventions are widely available and cost-effective

It is significant to note that the DMHI market is a quickly changing environment, with many more OCRD digital interventions still in the development and testing stages. Like this, a myriad of generalised digital health therapies is readily accessible and affordable. These therapies can be used to lessen anxiety and improve general well-being, but empirical research is needed to determine how effective they are for OCRDs.

Benefits of digital interventions

A viable strategy for increasing access to OCRD therapy is through digital interventions. Digital CBT therapies have been proven to have response rates that, in many circumstances, are comparable to face-to-face therapy. Beyond teletherapy, internet- and app-based therapies offer a widely available, low-stigma, low-cost resource that can be utilised as a stand-alone treatment delivery method, a blended care tool to supplement treatment, or as a step-down care method before face-to-face therapy.

Limitations and future directions of digital mental health interventions

With these benefits in mind, more work is needed to address the limitations associated with DMHIs. DMHIs are growing at a rapid pace with over 20,000 publicly available mental health apps, but only scarce scientific studies evaluating their outcomes (Deloitte, 2022).

More research is needed to develop and test the efficacy of DMHIs, particularly with larger and more inclusive samples (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, sexual minority).

Internet-delivered CBT is more adaptable and affordable

Although face-to-face CBT is the psychosocial intervention for OCRDs with the most research, there are encouraging findings demonstrating the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of digital CBT, including telemedicine, iCBT, and app-based CBT.

Additionally, internet-delivered CBT—and particularly CBT given through smartphones—is more adaptable, available, and affordable than in-person therapy. Many logistical and psychological barriers to therapy are addressed by ICBT and app-based CBT, which can be utilised as a technique to offer standalone CBT.


Help is here:

Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation

Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.


Contact: Email:

Telephone: +91 9999 666 555

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