eMEN: Using technology to improve Europe’s mental health

The demand for mental healthcare in Europe is on the rise. To meet this demand, the EU-funded eMEN project is developing and implementing a range of technology-based applications for prevention, diagnostics, and treatment. 

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To meet rising demand for mental healthcare in Europe, the eMEN project is developing technology-based applications for prevention, diagnostics, and treatment. ©eMEN To meet rising demand for mental healthcare in Europe, the eMEN project is developing technology-based applications for prevention, diagnostics, and treatment. ©eMEN

" eMEN is a first-of-its-kind multidisciplinary, European cooperation platform promoting practical implementation of digital technology for improving mental health prevention, diagnostics, and treatment. E-mental health technology could greatly contribute to keeping mental healthcare accessible and affordable for all EU citizens, as demand and costs are increasing. "

Oyono Vlijter, eMEN project leader, Arq Foundation, Diemen, the Netherlands

With 38 % of the adult European population being affected by a mental disorder, mental health poses a tremendous challenge to both European societies and healthcare systems. Many researchers point to such societal changes as automation, economic competition, social media, aging populations, and climate change as possible causes.

One possible solution is digital health (e-health) technologies, which have an enormous potential to improve the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, and management of mental health issues. This project aims to implement these technologies across Europe,and establish a European-wide network to promote its development, testing, and implementation.

Applications, policies and knowledge

Using a multidisciplinary approach, the project has implemented several actions focusing on finding and promoting practical solutions for scaling up e-mental health technology. For example, working with 14 SMEs, the project has co-created, modified, and piloted seven applications in six countries: two for depression, two for anxiety, and three for post-traumatic stress disorder. The pilots are being conducted within a range of mental healthcare settings and systems across Europe.

The project is developing a comprehensive European policy recommendation for implementing e-mental health services. When complete, the recommendation will help decision makers better understand the benefits of e-mental health products and services and how they can be used to improve mental health throughout Europe.

As an increase in the use of e-mental health services cannot happen without an increase in knowledge about the available technology, eMEN researchers have launched a strategic communication strategy. This focuses on reaching relevant stakeholders, including mental health service provides, SMEs/e-health developers, policy makers, universities, advocacy groups and users. This is being done via a project website, social media, videos, banners, transnational and thematic seminars and conferences.

A competitive edge

Thanks to its development of a faster, large-scale implementation of mental health technology, the eMEN project is helping northwest Europe remain a leading region in e-mental health. The project will have a positive impact on employment, creating more jobs within e-health-related SMEs and supporting the development of a healthier workforce. Its work promotes exports of e-health products and services to other regions, both in the EU and beyond.

Beneficiaries

“We can now say that digital mental health care will be part of the ‘blended care’ future, where face-to-face and online treatment are combined. Furthermore, e-mental health can play an important role with regard to accessibility and affordability of mental health care services, as demand is increasing.” 

 

Oyono Vlijter, eMEN project leader, Arq, National Psychotrauma Centre

 

“Screening the regulations in the EU and in national legislation, barriers and facilitators for promoting and implementing good quality eMental health have been extensively studied and proposals for recommendations and actions to upscale eMental health throughout the EU have been developed. Giving rise to various suggestions for practical applications and further research, this work has stimulated new developments in our own clinical and scientific institutions.” 

 

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Wolfgang Gaebel; Past President EPA, WHO Collaborating Centre, LVR-Klinikum Düsseldorf

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Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “eMEN” is EUR 5 363 655, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 3 218 193 through the InterregNorth West Europe Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Innovation”.