Project MH43

Exploring the use of Human-Centred Design (HCD) methods to improve the digital transformation of frontline mental health services in the East of England

A project to provide an initial scoping of the evidence and literature on the digital transformation of mental health services in the UK but specifically in the East of England. This project aims to raise the awareness of and provide an understanding for frontline mental health workers of human centred design methods in digital transformation. 


Mental health services are under severe pressure from the social and economic fallout of the pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis, rising personal debts and now a forthcoming economic recession. Across the East of England particularly in coastal towns we are seeing growing backlogs and waiting times, a lack of interoperability between frontline services, staff shortages and the decline of the mental health and well-being of frontline staff. It is within the context of an exponential rise in demand for mental health services and a market bubbling with large volumes of ventures and digital platforms offering these services, that emerged the pressing need to critically examine the design and use of digital mental health platforms and applications in service provision and support.

Project Aims

The project aims to:

  • Generate a scoping evidence review to understand the use and challenges of existing digital mental health services in the UK, and specifically in our EoE coastal areas;
  • To raise awareness of and provide frontline MH workers with an understanding of the methodology of human centered design so it may be used in changes to local frontline services;
  • Examine the challenges faced by people from ethnic minorities, in accessing mental health services in general but especially digital ones in the EoE.
  • Create and support the establishment of a Mental health digital transformation working group for the East of England. This will consist of academics, local, regional, and national policy partners.

Project Activity

  • Scoping review of evidence on digital mental health implementation
  • Workshop to introduce and explore human-centred design principles with system stakeholders
  • Interviews with stakeholders to understand current landscape of digital mental health services and opportunities for further innovation.

Anticipated outputs

Outputs will include a summary report from the scoping review, workshop and interviews, and establishment of a regional digital mental health collaborative group. It is anticipated that mental health platforms designed along human-centred design principles will allow for a more user-friendly, inclusive and acceptable process of signposting and referral of individuals to appropriate mental health support services.

Papers and resources

Read the related report. Entitled 'Human-Centred Design for Mental Health Services Workshop'

Who is involved?

Dr Adam Coutts, University of Cambridge