Digital technologies to support mental health


This project is looking at the design of novel e-mental health technologies. The first phase considered design opportunities across a range of mental health settings. The second phase is following up one such opportunity with the IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) team. The study is evaluating the efficacy and levels of engagement with a novel online platform for common mental health problems called SilverCloud.

Online interventions present the possibility to substantially increase access to care for common mental health problems at the mild or moderate level. Studies have shown that online interventions for depression and anxiety are effective but it is difficult to keep patients engaged. In this project we evaluate an online intervention that has been explicitly designed for engagement.

The objectives of the pilot study are:

  • To evaluate engagement with the online intervention in a realistic primary mental health care setting
  • Assess engagement from multiple perspectives, including clinical efficacy and interaction design
  • Contribute to further development of the online intervention
  • Support preparation for a full-scale clinical trial


The SilverCloud online intervention will be used as part of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. It will be provided at the lower level of intensity as an alternative to manual-based guided self-help.

This pilot is designed as a service-based study to ensure that its results will be applicable in settings in which it is likely to be used. Different methods will be used to understand engagement: Outcome data will be collected to assess whether users have engaged with CBT through SilverCloud; Aggregate demographic data will be explored to understand who chooses an online intervention; Log data will be analysed to understand how the online tool has been used; Contextual interviews will link the findings from the log data analysis to users’ sense of engagement.


Our main partner in this study is Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.


SilverCloud project protocol

For more information contact: Terry Dickerson, Engineering Design Centre, University of Cambridge