The Society for Digital Mental Health is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the advancement of digital mental health through disseminating knowledge and research, working collectively with stakeholders to promote the equitable implementation of digital mental health services, and supporting effective and sustainable policy.
The goals of SDMH include:
- Support knowledge generation and sharing concerning the design, effectiveness, use, implementation, and dissemination of digital mental health products and services among a broad variety of stakeholders, including researchers, healthcare providers, payers, employers, developers, patient advocates, educators, and policy experts.
- Foster the development and application of evidence standards and evidence-based best practices for sustainable, effective implementation of digital mental health technologies across different care delivery settings and models.
- Promote the equitable use of digital mental health products and services, with a focus on benefiting underserved and at-risk communities and reducing health disparities.
The SDMH grew out of the Banbury Forum, a meeting held in 2019 with a broad range of representatives, including from healthcare, payers, research, policy, investment, and patient advocacy, to examine the research-to-practice gap in digital mental health in the United States. The Forum made three recommendations: 1) all people experiencing common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD should have access to evidence-based digital mental health services; 2) reimbursement mechanisms are required for broad implementation; and 3) evidence standards are needed to support decision making. SDMH was founded to act on these aims.
As a big tent organization, SDMH is the only professional organization dedicated to digital mental health research and implementation. As a big tent organization, SDMH brings together members across academic research, healthcare, payers, digital mental health companies, and people with lived experience. SDMH is working to advance digital mental health with organizations involved in the development of reimbursement pathways through legislation, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and the American Medical Association. SDMH is forming diverse workgroups to address the challenges impacting broad implementation of digital mental health in the United States.
Covid-19 was an accelerator for digital mental health. Much has changed since the Banbury Forum in the healthcare, legislative, regulatory, and research environments, as our country has experienced increases in mental health challenges and substance abuse. Our strategic goals continue to evolve to meet and address these challenges in a changing environment.
Reimbursement and regulatory policy
Reimbursement challenges have been a barrier to the growth and widespread use of digital mental health tools. SDMH is working with other organizations representing provider groups, industry, and people with lived experience to promote regulatory and reimbursement policy through legislation, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and the American Medical Association. We seek to coordinate policy agendas and messaging to advance sustainable and equitable policies that will enable the broad and equitable dissemination of digital mental health services.
While a large body of research has demonstrated the effectiveness of digital mental health tools and services, successful implementation has proven difficult. Many of the growing number of efforts in this area occur outside of academic research and there are few established methods of sharing the information from these efforts. We are working with representatives from companies and industry to develop an implementation “playbook”, which can aggregate information on practices that have been successful and unsuccessful.
SDMH provides a forum for researchers in academics and industry to share findings from high quality, innovative, and impactful research. We offer an annual conference, the first of which was held in 2022. We also provide newsletters and promote research through social media.
Digital mental health has the potential to decrease barriers to accessing mental health care. SDMH is committed to ensuring that digital mental health research, policy, and implementation prioritizes the needs of those groups who have not been well served by our mental healthcare system.