A new report indicates that accessing support through Tellmi means young people are less reliant on NHS resources. Tellmi was associated with a cost-saving to the NHS of £528 per person, with cost savings attributed to the education; health, crime, and social services sectors. This is a potential NHS cost saving of £1 billion.
The bill for young people’s mental health across the UK is a startling £118 billion per year. The cost of mental health problems is equivalent to around 5 percent of the UK’s GDP.
Between 2017 and 2022, the proportion of 7 to 16-year-olds with a probable mental health condition increased from 1 in 9 (12.1%) to one in six (18%). While increased awareness and recognition of mental health conditions in children and young people may have contributed to these changes, they indicate that the prevalence of mental health conditions is likely increasing.
This rise in prevalence approximately corresponds to an additional 500,000 children and young people experiencing mental health problems. Half of lifetime mental health disorders emerge by the age of 14, and three-quarters by the age of 24 so prevention and early intervention must be a priority.
This is a potentially daunting prospect for an already overwhelmed and overstretched NHS, which has seen the number of children and young people in contact with mental health services increase by 300% over the last six years, with the average waiting time between referral and contact with a mental health service standing at 41 days.
In response to the increased pressure on services like CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services,) there is now an increased reliance on non-NHS-funded support services.
As demand for mental health support continues to stretch the capacity of the NHS, peer support, the practice of using one’s own experience to help others, has widely been recognised as an effective tool5,6. In addition, new research into the UK-based company Tellmi (formerly MeeToo Education), which includes a fully pre-moderated digital peer support app, showcases significant savings to the NHS.
The findings come following an early cost-comparator model of Tellmi built by the York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) to identify the cost impact of using this digital app. The research found a statistically significant difference in the reduction of GP visits between those who had just started using Tellmi and those who had been using Tellmi for over one month. When excluding Tellmi’s service costs, the model estimated a cost saving of £196 per person over the one-year time horizon of the model. The long-term scenario analysis showed a cost saving of £528 per person, with cost savings attributed to the education; health, crime, and social services sectors.
Looking at the bigger picture, there are 11.8 million young people in the UK aged 10-197. Of them, 16% (1,888,000) have diagnosable mental health issues1. Therefore, if all 16% were to use Tellmi, it would result in an NHS cost saving of £1 billion.
Dr Kerstyn Comley, Tellmi co-founder, noted: “Recognising the need for a safe and effective solution that children and young people can identify with we created Tellmi, a scalable, cost-effective digital peer support solution that supports young people with minor concerns or major disorders by providing anonymous access to guided peer and counsellor support, personalised information, and specialist services with no referrals and no waiting lists. We are delighted with the recent findings and hope that this will make it easier for the NHS, local authorities, and schools to commission such a vital tool for their children and young people.”
As a result of Tellmi already being commissioned by the NHS across several UK regions and many schools reaping the benefits of funding the app independently, Tellmi has over 77,000 young people not only seeking support from their peers but actively replying to their peers posts offering support, relatability, and empathy. The young people we undoubtedly need to focus on are themselves actively beginning to change their own mental health landscape.
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