Prior to moving to Cambridge in January 2010, I was the lead interaction designer for SilverCloud, an integrated software platform that supports the rapid development of online treatments for mental health difficulties.

SilverCloud has proven very successful. It formed the basis for a spin out company called SilverCloud Health Ltd. To date the platform has been used to developed treatment programs for a range fo common mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Doherty, D., Coyle, D., & Sharry, J. (2012) Engagement with Online Mental Health Interventions: An Exploratory Clinical Study of a Treatment for Depression. ACM CHI 2012, pp 1421-1430. (pdf) (DOI link)

Online mental interventions have the potential for greatly increase access to treatment for common mental health disorders. However, while previous research had shown the online mental health interventions can benefit people experiencing psychological difficulties, attrition had also been identified a major problem in real-world deployments. SilverCloud was specifically design to address this challenge and to improve engagement with online interventions. The paper listed above introduced four key strategies for reducing attrition: interactivity, personel, supportive and strategies.

The paper also presents the results of a practice-based clinical study in which 45 clients and 6 therapists used an online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programme for depression. Pre and post-treatment assessments, using the Beck Depression Inventory, indicate a statistically significant improvement in depressive symptoms, with a large effect size, for the moderate-tosevere clinical sub-sample receiving standalone online treatment (n=18). This group was the primary target for the intervention. A high level of engagement was also observed compared to a prior online intervention used within the same service. Quantitative and qualitative results in the paper contribute towards our understanding of engagement in online mental health interventions.

Further evaluations of programs created with SilverCloud are currently ongoing.

SilverCloud was developed as part of the Technology Enhanced Therapy project, a translational research partnership between Trinity College Dublin, Parents Plus and the Irish National Digital Research Centre.