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expert reaction to nine new digital therapies for adults with anxiety and depression recommended by NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published a new draft guidance conditionally recommending eight digital enabled therapies to treat depression and anxiety disorders in adults.


Miranda Wolpert, Director of Mental Health at Wellcome, said:

“Digital mental health therapies will become an increasingly important and potentially scalable way to reach people with mental health problems around the world. 

“We will always have to find the right balance between putting them through the right level of scrutiny, but also making them available for people without too many barriers in place. 

“It is exciting to see these recommended digital interventions from NICE that could help people who experience anxiety and depression as early as possible, potentially transforming lives.” 


Prof Tony Kendrick, Professor of Primary Care, University of Southampton, said:

“There is good evidence for the effectiveness of some of the apps, but not all, which is specified in the two documents. The point is well made that further evidence of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness needs to be gathered, and the relevant metrics for evaluation are listed.

“We also need more evidence however on the possible risk of widening inequality of access to treatments. The risk is that people who are less Internet savvy will miss out, although if therapies become more available as a result of the wider adoption of digital therapies then it may help everyone. Information needs to be examined on the effects on the demographic profile of people accessing the therapies, as indicated in the document, but also on the effects on waiting times and broader measures of access beyond the people who access the apps.”



‘Digitally enabled therapies for adults with depression: early value assessment’ and ‘Digitally enabled therapies for adults with anxiety disorders: early value assessment’ was published by NICE at 00:01 UK time on Tuesday 16th May.



Declared interests

Miranda Wolpert: Wellcome is funding some regulation for the MHRA and NICE into digital health apps, separately to this: In a previous role, Miranda was involved in the app development for child mental health with SilverCloud. Wellcome provided funding for iCT-PTSD (OxCADAT) for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and iCT-SAD (OxCADAT) for social anxiety disorder.

Prof Tony Kendrick: “I declare that I am Principal Investigator on an NIHR funded study of Internet support for people coming off long-term antidepressants, called the REDUCE trial. In REDUCE we are testing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a digital programme, ADvisor, which includes some elements derived from psychological therapies for anxiety and depression.”

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