March 7, 2017, by Stefan Rennick-Egglestone

Digital technology to support men’s mental health

We’ve recently received this intriguing article from Sarah Brydges of the School of Pharmacy, and are keen to collect more examples of digital research projects, so please get in touch if you would like to share your work.

Sarah’s blog

I am a practicing pharmacist and part-time PhD student. My research is on men’s mental health, and this focus has led me to be involved in digital technology. This may not seem an obvious connection, yet I always had a desire to direct my research towards creating something. Coming from a community pharmacy background, I particularly wanted to understand how pharmacists could better deliver and target services to help the needs of men with depression, and from this knowledge design a pilot service for them.

I am looking at using digital technology to help me deliver a novel service. The service resolves around peer support video messaging interactions, delivered by a digital interface and utilised within pharmacy medicine antidepressant consultations. There are many aspects of this proposed service that are novel, and my research will look at potential benefits of this service design, or indeed any negative aspects. I will be using qualitative methods and participants will be involved in the participatory design process. This will help us further understand about what aspects of services are engaging and acceptable to this population, and why. Advancing this understanding is important because at current men with depression have more negative outcomes than females with depression; two key examples being higher alcohol consumption and suicide rates. Secondly men are not using pharmacy services as much as women.  Therefore this is a population that, in terms of health, we should be designing services for, and designing services that they will use.

I am hoping to my research to have both a scientific contribution, and a practical output. The practical output would be a prototype of this digitally supported peer-support scheme. There are certain specifications for the interface that I have identified as important.

-The interface should require password entry.

-The interface should facilitate video encryption and decryption.

-Videos should be secure, backed-up, and stored in a way that complies with EU regulations.

-Users should be able to only see the videos relevant to them.

-Alerts should be sent out to specific users when videos are uploaded.

I would be really interested if anyone has any suggestions for any current systems they know that fulfil these specifications, if you do feel free to email myself at Any guidance will be very much appreciated, or indeed if you feel this research links into something you are doing/interested in getting involved with doing it would be great to hear from you.

I hope this exploratory research will be insightful for both the scientific and practical contributions highlighted above, but also to help explore if video messaging and digital technology can be incorporated into current healthcare delivery to help patient care.

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