Mental health treatment, like most parts of the NHS, is severely underfunded. We could argue all day about the causes and potential solutions to that fact, but in the meantime, there are kids that need therapy. And the NHS has decided to do something about it – something it actually has the funds and resources to do.
According to the Guardian, under-18s will now be able to seek help for mild cases of depression through smartphone apps, including kids as young as five. The recommendation came from the NHS's treatment advisers at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), who want to help children get some therapy without having to deal with huge waiting lists.
Hopefully, prescribing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) via apps will help cut some of those waiting lists down, and take a bit of the pressure off the very overworked NHS child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
App therapy (therappy, if you will) is already recommended to adults having certain mental health problems, but this is the first time it's been recommended for children.
"Digital CBT can be offered to children or young people, aged five to 18, with continuing symptoms of mild depression who do not have other significant health conditions or suicidal thoughts," says the guidance.
It's important to bear those guidelines in mind -- NICE isn't saying all depressed kids should be fobbed off with apps. It's saying mild depression without suicidal feelings or other symptoms might be best treated with apps in the first instance. If that doesn't work, more intensive therapy can be looked at, but it makes sense to try something low-cost and easily-deployed that doesn't require face-to-face therapist time first.
Plus the kid can pretend they're playing Fortnite or whatever kids do these days, while keeping their CBT secret from anyone who's causing them to have depression in primary school.