As part of the Work Package 1 entitled “Identification of needs”, the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for research and training in mental health in Lille-France is leading a qualitative and quantitative research “Innovative technologIes for Mental health care: socio-AnthropoloGIcal and clinical approach – a North-west European study” (IMAGINE).
The complexity of our object of study - the use of new technologies for people’s mental health - requires undertaking a multi-disciplinary approach, considering both the clinical and the socio-anthropological aspects. It is emphasized by Prof. Falissard when he concluded a recent editorial on mental health research at Inserm: "New avenues remain to be explored, which call for a new approach to mental health research. There is no doubt that the human and social sciences have a more important place in psychiatric research. ».
E-(Mental) Health presents new cross-sectoral challenges, more specifically around the design, development and evaluation of such tools. Indeed, this emerging field brings together actors from the technology sectors and start-ups as well as public authorities, research centres and universities, healthcare structures as well as citizens. It is therefore essential to ensure the participation of each of the actors concerned by the use of these technological solutions, with particular attention to mental health service users, carers and (mental) health professionals.
The current health context relating to the rapid emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures taken to curb it, has considerably impacted the mental health of the populations. The prevalence of anxiety disorders has clearly increased especially among specific populations such as healthcare professionals directly exposed to the management of COVID-19 patients. At the same time, this period is marked by an accelerated deployment and use of new technologies.
This study aims at evaluating the representations, expectations and needs in terms of anxiety management or improvement of mental health through new technologies and the impact of new technologies on mental health and quality of life. It will also bring to light how new technologies imply new ways of perceiving oneself and relating to others as well as the ethical issues associated with their use.
In order to meet these objectives, the research teams will work on a mixed methods methodology comprising:
- A qualitative approach with the organisation of three different focus-groups of mental health service users suffering from anxiety, carers or relatives and healthcare professionals in each partner country (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) before November 2021.
- A quantitative approach with a questionnaire addressed to healthcare professionals, carers and mental health service users disseminated in each site of the research between July and October 2021 in order to highlight quantitative data related to the usage and expectations of this new technology.