TECHNOLOGY is set dramatically improve mental health services for people in Tenbury and the Teme Valley.

NHS chiefs say that an announcement from NHS England could be ground-breaking for people in the area.

The area has been chosen for just one of six pilot projects throughout the UK.

An estimated one on four people will experience some form of mental health-related problem in any given year and suicide is the biggest killer of young men under the age of 45.

But more help could be available by the use of ground-breaking new IT and digital systems.

Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, the main provider of mental health services in the county, will receive up to £5million of national funding and additional support to develop new and innovative IT and digital systems to support mental health patients throughout the county.

The trust has been named a global digital exemplar for mental health as part of a plan released by NHS England.

There are only six of these across the country and the trust has been selected in recognition of its recent IT developments, as well as its overall performance and financial sustainability.

Being a global digital exemplar provides access to up to £5million of funds to help the trust revolutionise its use of IT and digital to improve mental health services.

It will benefit service users of all ages, from children who self-harm through to older people with dementia.

The trust plans to work with national partners to develop a range of innovative programmes, including a mobile-phone gaming app to help young people cope with anxiety and stress, and software which will enable patients and their carers to access, and contribute to, their care plans online at home.

Other ideas include developing programmes which will enable GPs and other healthcare professionals access to the same information held by mental-health teams, so there is an up-to-date record of each patient.

“This is a significant development for mental-health services in Worcestershire and means our patients and service users will be able to benefit from IT and digital which is genuinely fit for the 21st century, supporting our staff to provide outstanding mental health services to people of all ages,” said David Brown, head of IT with the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust.

"It will give the trust the potential to revolutionise the way IT and digital support patients and staff and we already have ideas which include mobile-phone gaming apps for young people, through to online dementia-friendly care plans which patients and families can access and contribute to.

“It also gives us the potential to ensure our mental-health services are even more integrated with our partners, so different professionals all have access to the same information. "This will improve continuity and reduce duplication which is both more efficient from a service and organisational perspective, but will also provide a better all-round service for patients and service-users.”

Sarah Dugan who is chief executive of the trust believes that the development will also help to tackle the stigma that can deter people from getting help for mental health problems.

“This will give us access to national expertise and resource to transform the service we offer and empower local people to take more control of their condition, increase independence and reduce stigma,” she said.