An Investigation of Digital Inclusion in Mental Health across England

15th June 2021

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Covid-19 has led to the rapid digital transformation of health and care, and we know that for some people who are not able to easily access digital services, this has compounded pre-existing health inequalities. 

In the context of mental health illness and services, this is a complex challenge. People living with severe mental illness are already facing significant inequalities, e.g. shorter life expectancy and higher levels of physical health conditions. In addition to general digital exclusion barriers such as digital and data poverty and confidence and skills, people living with severe mental health illness may have specific additional barriers as explained in this recently published research:

Cognitive deficits and symptoms such as hallucinations may hinder use of digital devices or the process of learning how to use them. Long periods of in-patient admission can also create gaps and a loss of touch with recent technological developments. Furthermore, the design of available digital tools (e.g. apps or websites) may not consider possible cognitive deficits or health literacy levels, limiting their usability by people with SMI, especially those with coexisting intellectual disability. 

Spanakis et al, 2021

As part of a mental health and learning disability trust and with a track record of working in mental health including our own digital platform MindWell Leeds,  mHabitat is particularly motivated to ensure we reduce and do not compound inequality for people living with mental health illness with digital transformation.

​An invitation:

mHabitat has been commissioned by NHS England and Improvement to generate a better understanding of the landscape, enablers and barriers and needs in relation to digital inclusion in mental health at a local, regional, and national level. This information will be used to improve the national support offered to local mental health services to tackle digital exclusion within their care pathways and support the design and development of inclusive digitally enabled mental health care pathways.

As part of this initiative we are working to find out more about the scale and type of digital inclusion activities taking place within local mental health systems across England. 

We are inviting people who are working in mental health services from all sectors to complete this short survey to find out more about:

  • Enablers and barriers to digital inclusion
  • Examples and types of digital inclusion activities taking place at a local level

If you work to either commission or deliver mental health services in any sector, please follow the link below to complete our survey:

Survey link:

We expect the survey to take 10 minutes to complete. The deadline for completing this survey is Monday 12 July 2021.

We will share and/or publish findings from this survey. This will include key insights from all of the responses. We will also share case studies of good practice. The outputs from this survey will directly inform future guidance and support from NHS England and Improvement.

If you have any questions or would like to share additional information with us please email us on

If you want to find out more about Inclusive Digital Transformation and Digital Inclusion in health and care go to our FutureNHS workspace where you will find a repository of tools, research and a whole range of resources.