Powys Teaching Health Board has been involved in the European MasterMind project since March 2014, this project concluded in February 2017.

The aims of this project were to make high quality treatment for depression more widely available for adults suffering from the illness by the use of ICT. The goal was to assess through implementation at scale (more than 5000 patients across those EU partners participating in the project) the impact of computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT) and collaborative care through the use of Videoconferencing (ccVc) in the treatment for depression across 10 EU and associated countries.

The MasterMind consortium was made up of 26 partners from all corners of Europe with Powys Teaching Health Board being the only Welsh participant in the Project.

The actual trial ran for 17 months. The target set in Powys was to include 500 patients in the use of cCBT/ccVc, of which, we achieved 445. Powys implemented the ‘Beating the Blues’ solution of online CBT following a single tender process. ‘Beating the Blues’ is an eight session online CBT based course designed to run over eight weeks, although as an online service, the specific timings can be flexible to meet the needs of the user.

The main focus of this project was not prove or disprove the clinical effectiveness or efficacy of cCBT as there was already sound clinical evidence supported by NICE guidelines that online CBT can be an effective method for delivering CBT. This focus of the project was to look at the key factors and barriers that facilitate and hinder the implementation of such a service.

Through the project, the main benefits that were realised by us were:

  • Better ease of access in rural areas and communities, no requirement to physically travel, can be completed anywhere with access to the internet;
  • Empowers patients, who are able to and who would benefit from it, to have the opportunity to manage their own mental health whilst healthcare professionals still have an overarching view of their progress;
  • It provides a solution to patients in cases of social isolation;
  • It provides greater visibility of suicidal and criminal intentions in patients suffering with mild-moderate depression;
  • Through the use of ICT for the treatment of depression and/or anxiety, citizens experiencing these common mental health conditions can master their own treatment and thereby overcome and continue to manage their difficulties with minimal involvement of mental health professionals.

Powys Teaching Health Board found the key benefits of working with different European partners to be; shared learning, being able to collaborate, sharing of innovative ideas and lessons learned and the ability to collaborate with multi national partners, who share the same challenges as us i.e rurality, access to psychological therapies due to geographical restrictions, etc.

The use of cCBT is directly linked to and supports the ambitions set out in Powys Teaching Health Boards IMTP. ‘Improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the people of Powys’ and fits strategically to the ‘Informed Health & Care’ strategy – a digital health and social care strategy for Wales.

The project has been able to demonstrate the above benefits, which in conjunction with the NICE guidelines and clinical evidence in relation to CBT gave us the encouragement to bid and secure further funding with Welsh Government through the Efficiency Through Technology Fund (ETTF). This will enable Powys Teaching Health Board to continue with its offering of online CBT to the people of Powys, and upscale these services in Powys based on the successful implementation through MasterMind.

During the MasterMind project and through various engagement forums Powys Teaching Health Board received interest from other public sector organisations to become involved in implementation of online CBT, we would now welcome the opportunity to work with others as part of the ETTF funded project to explore the opportunity to collaborate on an All Wales cCBT service.

For further information on the above article please visit the MasterMind project website, download the information leaflet or contact Daniel Davies/Becka Williams at Powys on: 01874 712427.