NHS Scotland will offer free, round the clock access to treatment for anxiety and insomnia to all adults in the country in partnership with the digital therapeutics provider Big Health, which was co-founded by Oxford University Professor of Sleep Medicine, Somerville Senior Research Fellow and proud Scotsman Colin Espie.
Big Health’s Daylight and Sleepio services, which offer cognitive behavioural therapy-based digital treatment for anxiety and insomnia respectively with the latter being developed by Professor Espie, will soon be available to all adults in Scotland. Users will be able to access the resource for free through their web browser or an app on their phone after a simple self-referral. GPs can also refer patients to the service.
The announcement follows a successful trial period in five of Scotland’s NHS boards, where Daylight and Sleepio have been available since October 2020. Almost 70% of Scottish Big Health users experienced an improvement in their anxiety symptoms, and users also gained an average of seven additional hours of sleep every week.
Big Health’s partnership with NHS Scotland has the potential to benefit a wide section of the population. The 2018/9 Scottish Health Survey found that 14% of Scottish adults – over 600,000 people – suffered from symptoms of anxiety, while studies have shown that as many as a third of adults in western countries struggle with sleep at least once a wee.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only affirmed what we knew from the beginning – digital mental health is critical to help scale much-needed services and provide additional choice for people to manage their mental health,” said Scotland’s Mental Wellbeing and Social Care Minister, Kevin Stewart.
“After assessing the effectiveness of Daylight and Sleepio, we are pleased to launch these treatments nationwide, providing clinically validated solutions for those who need it most.”
“I commend the Scottish government for continued bold action, furthering their global mental health care leadership by expanding access to evidenced-based digital therapeutics nationwide,” said Professor Espie.
“Now, we see an incredible opportunity for England to step up and do the same. The NHS is best-in-class in providing mental health support to those who need it, and Big Health has already seen significant success in the Thames Valley and North Hampshire. We have a significant opportunity to further improve mental health care access and outcomes in England.”