The London Mental Digital Wellbeing Service enables Londoners to assess their own mental health, get information about how to look after their own wellbeing, access support, and connect with others - including mental health professionals. PHEBI applied an underpinning behaviour change framework, used low cost interventions to optimise the flow of users to and through the digital space, and advised on the selection and offer of apps for wellbeing support – all based on existing theory and evidence. This case study forms part of our behavioural insights resource.
We also advised on robust evaluation. PHEBI also identified potential unintended consequences of the programme and advised how to mitigate risks.
Research said too many Londoners are suffering alone with common mental health conditions, so the London Mayor, NHS, and council leaders wanted to test the theory that giving Londoners access to a 24/7 online service could help to improve their quality of life, reduce pressure on local services and save London money. There is a wealth of online and offline mental wellbeing resources out there; the commissioning organisations wanted to connect people with those helpful resources, gather data to identify any gaps, and use these data to create innovative new digital content and tools to help plug those gaps. The challenges were to get people to the website, identify their needs and provide targeted support for them, evaluate outcomes, and provide a strategy for mitigating any unintended consequences.
The solution: PHEBI delivered:
- A behaviour change framework, identifying all areas within the programme where behaviour change interventions were relevant and could facilitate achievement of programme goals.
- A strategy to enhance user traffic from online spaces to the LDMW online space, including a complete pathway for the digital user journey.
- Recommendations to identify and mitigate substitute behaviours and unintended consequences.
- Recommendations on user targeting, using evidence to prioritise cohorts for consideration by the programme, and reviewing the data to see what works, when, and for whom
- Advisory support to the app endorsement process – feeding behavioural science and evaluation expertise into the assessment process, to maximise impact of the interventions
Over 10 months, there were 81,289 users, 31 per cent of whom were returning visitors. There was a good spread of engagement by age with the highest activity among 25-34 year olds. More than 1/3 of views were for a sleep support app. Users were found while they searched for related topics on social media. Cost per click through to the site was very efficient in comparison to other digital marketing costs.
How is the new approach being sustained?
The website will be developed over time based on the feedback from people who test and use it. This is best practice for IT projects and is in line with Government Digital Standards. The effectiveness of the service will be evaluated by an independent academic partner. London NHS and local authorities continue to invest based on the needs analysis and initial results.
Digital projects need behavioural science experts if they are to efficiently and safely support people to change their behaviour. Behaviour change theory and evidence is often not embedded in digital interventions. Digital marketing with behavioural science informed content can efficiently reach and engage with people at their time and place of need. Written content and the triage process has been tested and enhanced with users and on-site. App selection and offer has been optimised.
Daniel Thomson, Project Manager – Good Thinking, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07821436489
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