We have developed an audio self-help range of psychological resources that are very widely applicable, but perhaps ideally suited to primary care. There have been many people within secondary care and also those not in any mental health services that have also benefited however.
What we did
It is a range of materials that is credible, based on CBT principles, easy to understand in non-jargon and non-stigmatising language, practical -having coping strategies described to the listener, and produced/engineered at a high quality standard. The materials give people straight away the information that they may otherwise wait for considerable amounts of time to hear from psychological therapists and other mental health professionals. There are 6 titles covering panic, worry, social anxiety, stress, anger, and negative thinking.
Originally produced on CD, we found that the resources were in great demand and users were very positive about its impact. We kept quickly running out of CDs and it was clear that scaling up the project would only be sensibly achieved if the delivery format moves away from being a CD onto a web/app platform. We worked in response to request from GPs and worked with them and created the app and dedicated website. The Don’t Panic app has now been launched on Android, iPhone and Blackberry platforms along with its own dedicated website. The response to all of the self-help therapies, specifically designed to support people who are living with stress, panic attacks, anger, negative thinking and social anxiety, has been tremendous. All six titles are completely free for everyone to listen to directly via a website, or to download directly to their mobile phone, providing access to a range of cognitive behavioural therapies at a time and place that is most convenient to them.
Wider Active Support
This was a project done in conjunction with other clinicians, GPs, University and service users. The GPs requested a resource and we supplied them with a sustainable method for instant delivery of credible self-help psychological resource.
These resources were designed absolutely with service users in mind and the titles were evaluated through their development and now of course once completed and used as intervention. One moving qualitative comments from a long-term user of mental health services at evaluation is “Thank you… I do not suffer from panic attacks anymore” Sharon, Leamington Spa. Very positive feedback from other stakeholders including public library, books on prescription, GPs and practice nurses. There are also many positive comments through App Store and Google Play and the app has been downloaded circa 10,000 times.
Looking Back/Challenges Faced
We regret we got bogged down in whether any income could or should be generated through its use. CWPT logo was throughout it (which was done as a potential income generator in case other Trusts wanted to licence it) but this put many users off. Should have been clearly stated that it was free of charge.
There were significant logistical and time related pressures, plus conflicting advice about how the material should be presented and many subjective opinions about branding and marketing et cetera. It was a CQUIN project and therefore had to be done in a certain timeframe. It was only through dogged tenacity that the project went forward and support from the right senior manager made the final difference.
The clinicians involved had to stick to their guns about putting the audio material centre stage rather than a visual element or more ‘flashy’ presentation
The app and web platform is now created and can simply live forever and grow if needs be. The costs were ‘front end’ and it is now an entirely sustainable resource for patient and public benefit at no extra charge.
Of a sample of 10,000 download/streams of the material, 1500 people completed the end-of-intervention evaluation questions. This data which has shown that 94% of users said that they had ‘tried one or more of the coping strategies’; 90% agree that the app has ‘increased their understanding’ about the chosen topic, and 93% have found the recording ‘useful’.
This work has been shared with Trusts in Lothian, Birmingham, Surrey and several researchers looking to put an app together. Also with a Trust in Shropshire regarding development of an app for Armed Forces, as well as other CWPT clinicians looking to develop apps for different clinical areas.