A stark digital skills deficit among people with severe mental illness means they struggle to access key services which are increasingly online, according to research by scientists at the University of York.

The study found that adults with conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are more likely to lack digital skills and are at risk of greater social isolation due to the digitalisation of services including health and social care, a trend that gathered pace during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Skills and Proficiency in Digital Essential Requirements (SPIDER) study by a team from the University’s Department of Health Sciences assessed the digital skills of 249 people aged between 21 and 84 with severe mental ill health.

The study, published in Perspectives in Public Health and supported by the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration, found that 42.2 per cent of participants did not have a basic ‘foundation’ level as defined by the Government’s Essential…

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