Web support may reduce risk of suicide, self-harm and harm to others

Hope is that those with hidden mental conditions will reach out for help

Pressures can arise at home, in work and at school, and many individuals would rather use a computer to communicate their problems than speak to someone

Pressures can arise at home, in work and at school, and many individuals would rather use a computer to communicate their problems than speak to someone

 

An internet-based service that links those concerned about possible mental health issues with support has been developed as a way to reduce the risk of suicide, self-harm and harm to others. The hope is that those with hidden conditions will reach out for help.

The service, called myGrist, was discussed yesterday at the Festival of Science in Birmingham, appropriately on World Suicide Prevention Day.

“The tool was required in the first place because mental health risks can show up everywhere,” said Dr Christopher Buckingham of Aston University. He co-developed myGrist with Dr Ann Adams of Warwick Medical School.

Pressures can arise at home, in work and at school, and many individuals would rather use a computer to communicate their problems than speak to someone, he said.

Those logging on to the package are asked to answer carefully devised questions that give some insight into the nature and severity of a person’s problems. The programme then analyses the results and makes suggestions directly to the person.

If the answers indicate an acute problem, the person’s family or GP might be notified as well as health service staff, Dr Buckingham said.

The site uses ordinary language and is simple for the person to use, he said.

The health professional version of the package, called Grist, has been used as an assessment tool for five years. Grist has delivered half a million assessments conducted by 3,000 clinicians, he said.

The recommendations given to people by myGrist were developed from a distillation of expert views that match current best clinical practice.

Access to the system provides a support for individuals who may feel isolated or unable to speak to someone about their condition, Dr Buckingham said.

The system goes live for the public next January. He expects it will also become available as a phone app.