Father and son using a tablet

The guided self-help digital cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) technologies can be used as an initial treatment option for those aged 5 to 18 while evidence is being generated.

These technologies will be able to be used once they have been given Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) approval by NHS England.

This topic is the first to be published as final early value assessment (EVA) guidance, new NICE guidance that provides conditional recommendations on promising health technologies that have the potential to address national unmet need.

This evaluation looks at promising technologies that can be used within the NHS while further evidence is generated to enable earlier access for patients. NICE guidance will then be reviewed to include this additional evidence and make a recommendation on the routine use across the NHS.

Early value assessment guidance is expected to take around 6 months to produce. This is quicker than the current time scale for NICE medical technologies guidance.

Patient experts told our committee that mental health services are in high demand, access varies widely across the country, and there is an unmet need when it comes to receiving treatment while on waiting lists to see specialists. These four technologies offer low risk options to children and young people who need to begin treatment as soon as possible.

This guidance shows how NICE is focussing on what matters most by getting the best care to patients fast.

These four technologies, using games, videos and quizzes, represent a promising step forward for new treatment options for children and young people, with early evidence showing they could help improve symptoms of anxiety or low mood.

It is incredibly important children and young people can access mental health services when they need it, and these new guided self-help tools will allow those between 5 and 18 to learn techniques for support when they are available in future.

This builds upon work already in place with nearly 300 mental health support teams in place in around 4,700 schools and colleges across the country.

The four self-guided products offer a mix of games, videos and quizzes, based on CBT principles, help children and young people learn techniques to better understand and manage their symptoms of anxiety or low mood.

An initial assessment with a healthcare professional is needed before using these technologies to make sure they are suitable and children and young people are then checked on a regular basis.

Digital CBT is delivered via mobile phones, tablets, or computers and can be accessed remotely and offers flexible access, greater privacy, increased convenience, and increased capacity. It may be particularly appealing to children and young people who are typically regular users of digital technologies such as smartphones and tablets.

Children and young people will have regular support from a healthcare professional and safeguarding and risk management processes must be in place. This means that if the treatment is not working and symptoms are getting worse, it will be identified quickly, lowering the risks to the child or young person.

An independent NICE committee has recommended the use of:

  • Lumi Nova (BfB labs)

  • Online Social anxiety Cognitive therapy for Adolescents (OSCA)

  • Online Support and Intervention for child anxiety (OSI).

  • Space from anxiety for teens, space from low mood for teens, space from low mood and anxiety for teens (Silvercloud).

It will be for the local NHS to determine how they wish to commission these new treatment options once they are DTAC compliant. The NICE committee believes the four technologies could offer a useful additional treatment option for around one million children and young people who may not be able to access current treatment or are on a waiting list and so not currently having treatment.

Early evidence suggests that digital CBT technologies may improve symptoms of anxiety for children and young people with mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety or low mood.

NICE believes that earlier treatment could reduce the demand on other treatment options such as face-to-face CBT and potentially prevent progression to more severe symptoms which could be more costly to treat.

Sign up for our newsletters and alerts

Keeping you up to date with important developments at NICE.