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BACKGROUND: Digital approaches may be helpful in augmenting care to address unmet mental health needs, particularly for schizophrenia and severe mental illness (SMI). OBJECTIVE: An international multidisciplinary group was convened to reach a consensus on the challenges and potential solutions regarding collecting data, delivering treatment, and the ethical challenges in digital mental health approaches for schizophrenia and SMI. METHODS: The consensus development panel method was used, with an in-person meeting of 2 groups: the expert group and the panel. Membership was multidisciplinary including those with lived experience, with equal participation at all stages and coproduction of the consensus outputs and summary. Relevant literature was shared in advance of the meeting, and a systematic search of the recent literature on digital mental health interventions for schizophrenia and psychosis was completed to ensure that the panel was informed before the meeting with the expert group. RESULTS: Four broad areas of challenge and proposed solutions were identified: (1) user involvement for real coproduction; (2) new approaches to methodology in digital mental health, including agreed standards, data sharing, measuring harms, prevention strategies, and mechanistic research; (3) regulation and funding issues; and (4) implementation in real-world settings (including multidisciplinary collaboration, training, augmenting existing service provision, and social and population-focused approaches). Examples are provided with more detail on human-centered research design, lived experience perspectives, and biomedical ethics in digital mental health approaches for SMI. CONCLUSIONS: The group agreed by consensus on a number of recommendations: (1) a new and improved approach to digital mental health research (with agreed reporting standards, data sharing, and shared protocols), (2) equal emphasis on social and population research as well as biological and psychological approaches, (3) meaningful collaborations across varied disciplines that have previously not worked closely together, (4) increased focus on the business model and product with planning and new funding structures across the whole development pathway, (5) increased focus and reporting on ethical issues and potential harms, and (6) organizational changes to allow for true communication and coproduction with those with lived experience of SMI. This study approach, combining an international expert meeting with patient and public involvement and engagement throughout the process, consensus methodology, discussion, and publication, is a helpful way to identify directions for future research and clinical implementation in rapidly evolving areas and can be combined with measurements of real-world clinical impact over time. Similar initiatives will be helpful in other areas of digital mental health and similarly fast-evolving fields to focus research and organizational change and effect improved real-world clinical implementation.

Original publication




Journal article


JMIR Ment Health

Publication Date





consensus, digital, ethics, lived experience, mental health, mobile phone, patient and public involvement, severe mental illness, user-centered design, Humans, Schizophrenia, Consensus, Telemedicine, Mental Health Services, Mental Disorders