National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funds next stage research into perinatal mental health App

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded the research team at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Manchester £250,000 to fund continued research of the Digital Assessment of Wellbeing in New Parents (DAWN-P), offered commerically by CareLoop Health.  The research team is headed by Dr Emily Eisner and includes CareLoop Director and Scientific Advisor Dr Pauline Whelan. 

Around 17% of mothers and 9% of fathers experience depression in the year after their baby’s birth.  Postnatal depression can affect the parent’s wellbeing, the parent-infant bond and the child’s development, and can impact both the parent and child’s long-term mental and physical health.  Medication and talking therapy are proven to be successful in treating postnatal depression but identifying who needs treatment is difficult and resource intensive, so that today around half of all cases are missed.

In their first stage study, the research team found digital screening using the CareLoop App accurately identified parents needing postnatal depression treatment.  The second stage study will take the App to a wider audience, content will be translated into three additional languages and the App will be distributed to parents across two NHS Trusts.  The multi-disciplinary research team includes digital health experts, people with lived experience of postnatal depression, clinicians working in and alongside maternity services within the NHS as well as a health economist and statistician. 

“We believe the research will further demonstrate the effectiveness of digital screening in postnatal depression,” said Dr Whelan.  “Our screening tool, delivered on a smartphone offers an accessible, low cost alternative to traditional in-person screening methods.   More parents identified as needing help means more people can be offered services for them to successfully recover from postnatal depression.”

Jump to the NIHR funding and awards page here

About Dr Pauline Whelan

Dr Pauline Whelan is a Director and Scientific Advisor at CareLoop Health.  In her roles as Digital Health Technical Lead at the University of Manchester, she leads a software engineering team across a digital health portfolio.  Dr Whelan is also the Digital Director of the GM.Digital Unit at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.