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We are thrilled to be able to announce the extension of our long-standing partnership with the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI), led by Professor the Lord Ara Darzi at Imperial College London, following new funding from philanthropic foundations.

We have been fortunate to be able to benefit from IGHI’s world-leading, cross-disciplinary expertise in a wide range of areas including mental health, data science, and service user and public involvement and engagement. Over the course of our partnership, we have collaborated to use cutting edge data science, Natural Language Processing and machine learning to gain the deepest insight possible from the rich, anonymised dataset Shout holds. Our data comprises millions of messages from text-based conversations, giving us the unique opportunity to uncover insight into the mental health of people across the UK, in their own words.

The partnership has borne fruit, leading to important and fascinating insights into Shout and its usage, which we have been able to feed back into the service in order to improve the experience for our texters. We have also been able to use our data for the wider good, to inform external stakeholders about findings and trends in mental health across the UK.

Now we have embarked on an exciting new two-year project, which will see the publication of four observatory reports over a twenty-four month period, that can be used to guide policy and practice. IGHI will be conducting research and summarising evidence to inform policymakers, external stakeholders and the general public as they work with us to understand how to make the best use of digital interventions in mental health.

IGHI's expertise in service user and public involvement will form a key element of this phase of our partnership through the creation of a diverse Service User Voice Group, which will ensure that Shout users and public member voices are heard, both through the improvement of the Shout service and the identification and development of research topics. The Group will meet regularly over the course of the two years, inputting to the observatory reports, feeding in a public voice to Shout’s decision-making boards and putting lived experience at the heart of everything we do.

Our first report will be launching in October this year. The subject will be the accessibility and availability of Shout in the context of mental health services across the UK, examining relevant aspects of the Shout dataset, insight from key mental health stakeholders from government, academia and the NHS, as well as input from the Service User Voice Group.