The House of Lords’ COVID-19 Committee will explore the mental health impact of spending more time online as well as the ways digital technology could be used in mental health service delivery.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated our rapidly increasing reliance on digital technology.
The inquiry will look at the long-term impact this may have on our social and economic wellbeing and, in particular, on four key drivers of wellbeing: physical health, mental health, social interaction and quality of working life.
Today (December 15) the committee will hear evidence from those who design, deliver, evaluate and use mental health services.
They will discuss the extent to which digital technology will be used to deliver mental health services in future, and the opportunities and risks that poses for different groups of people in need of support and treatment.
As well as the relationship between the NHS and private companies in relation to the development of new technologies, programs etc.
They will also consider the risks and benefits of increasing internet use to different groups of people, and the action needed to protect those at risk of harm.
And discuss whether enough research has been done into both the efficacy of different digital approaches to service delivery and the impact of internet use on mental health.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said the government needs to take a broader approach to ending ‘digital poverty’
‘This is a timely inquiry after a year in which the online world has been a lifeline for many adults and children.
‘Technology and the internet play a key role in helping children to learn, express themselves and keep in touch with friends and family, and this has been especially true during the pandemic.
‘However, the move towards online education and support has also exacerbated the inequalities faced by families without access to technology and data.
‘We have worked with partners to provide devices and wifi to many of our service users, but looking forward we need a broader approach to ending living in ‘digital poverty’, led by the government.
‘For children who are online, alongside the many benefits, we know there are multiple risks. These include exposure to harmful content, online grooming and sexual abuse.
‘There is also cyber-bullying, gaming addiction and a whole range of other factors that can undermine young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
‘This is why Barnardo’s continues to call for the urgent introduction of legislation with the strictest possible penalties for companies that fail to keep children safe online. Alongside this, we are calling on the industry to adopt a ‘safety-by-design’ principle in all new products.’
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