The eMEN event “E-mental health implementation: the digital revolution in mental healthcare“ in Düsseldorf focused on the general framework that is necessary for the implementation of digital interventions in Germany. Around 120 participants joined the event that was hosted by the German Association for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (DGPPN), the German Alliance on Mental Health (ABSG) and the LVR Institute for healthcare research (LVR-IVF). Renowned national and international speakers presented their knowledge to the current research, gave practical insights in e-mental health routines and discussed prerequisites to implementation in Germany.
At the beginning, Prof. Heleen Riper from the VU Amsterdam gave an introduction to e-mental health and an overview of the current state of the art. She emphasised that high-quality digital applications can be effective interventions. Properly used, they can make an important contribution to closing European-wide gaps in psychosocial care. Why is it then that e-mental health applications not been implemented in routine care in Germany yet? Karsten Knöppler, Managing Director of fbeta, a healthcare consulting firm, identified the short development cycles of digital applications as a major challenge for the implementation of digital interventions into the healthcare system. He called for new methods to evaluate these new products. Dr. Susanne Klein, head of the development department in the TK care management, was able to report first positive experiences with internet-based interventions. In a model project, the health insurance provided guided online counselling for people with mild to moderate depression. The results of the pilot project indicated good acceptance rates among participants and showed that online interventions may successfully be implemented into practice. She emphasized that internet-based interventions need to meet high quality standards and that online therapy should not be seen as a cost-effective alternative to routine care, but as an add-on.
In a best practice-session, examples of different orientations were presented:
- Prof. Martin Lambert from the Department of Psychiatry and Psycho-therapy of the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf presented the e-mental health portal E-RECOVER from the RECOVER project in Hamburg. The project uses a holistic approach to improve the psychosocial care situation in this specific area.
- The “Erasmus +” funded Therapy 2.0 project aims to train practitioners in new ways of therapeutic interaction with "digital natives". Evelyn Schlenk (Innovation in Learning Institute, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nurnberg)presented the project's comprehensive program, which addresses, among other things, the peculiarities of computer assisted communication in counselling and therapy, as well as providing assistance to practitioners on the legal and ethical aspects of online counselling and therapy.
- Another field of digital applications was presented by Prof. Eva Meisenzahl (Director Department of
Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical Director LVR-Klinikum Düsseldorf, Clinics of the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany). In the PRONIA project, she focuses on the opportunities created by computer-aided diagnostics of mental illness. For this purpose, she and her colleagues have developed an e-mental health platform that integrates findings from various sources and enables individualized e-health diagnostics.
- Dr. Bart Schrieken, Clinical Director of Interapy, provided insight into the implementation practice of the Netherlands, which is one of Europe's frontrunners in the field of e-mental health in terms of writing therapy.
The final panel discussion was attended by both the President of the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists, Dr. Ernst Dietrich Munz, and Dr. Franz Joseph Bartmann, President of the Medical Association Schleswig-Holstein and Chairman of the Telematics Committee of the German Medical Association. The underlying theme of this discussion was that online-based interventions can be an effective "tool" that improve and enable better access to mental health care. E-mental health applications can be an additional offer to increase the range of mental health care services.
The seminar was conducted within the framework of the EU co-financed project eMEN and was the second of its kind in Germany.