Severe mental ill health and digital inclusion

A talk by Mr. Gordon Johnston, Dr Alice Mathers and Panagiotis Spanakis
Closing the Gap Network, The Good Things Foundation and University of York

14 June 2021, 12:00 PM

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About this talk

Digital exclusion is the experience of being unable to fully benefit from engaging with the online world, mainly due to lack of access, skills or motivation. People with severe mental ill health (SMI) are a vulnerable group facing profound health inequalities (e.g. reduced life expectancy compared to people with no SMI, as well as high incidences of comorbid physical health conditions and been considered a clinically vulnerable group during the Covid-19 pandemic) and digital exclusion might amplify these inequalities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital exclusion might have meant exclusion from accessing health-care services, information, and social support.

In this talk we will discuss the findings of two research surveys conducted by a group of researchers in the Closing the Gap Network at the University of York, and completed by a cohort of people with SMI (e.g. psychosis-spectrum or bipolar disorder). The first survey explored use of the Internet and digital devices during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and the other used the Essential Digital Skills framework to assess digital skills for life and work in this population.

On the day we will be joined by Gordon Johnston, Lived Experience Consultant in Closing the Gap Network (research network for health inequalities in people with SMI), and Al Mathers, Head of Research in The Good Things Foundation (leading UK charity for digital inclusion), to reflect on the wider implications of these findings, focusing on greater consideration of needs of people with SMI when designing and implementing the country's digital transformation.

Panagiotis Spanakis

Panos brings several years of experience in advanced academic research. Together with his colleagues in University of York, he has received research funds from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and the UK Research Institute (UKRI) to explore digital engagement in people with severe mental ill health.

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