- Publication date
- 21 January 2021
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
The subject of this exploratory meeting was engagement with individuals vulnerable to radicalisation, through both online outreach and subsequent online/offline mental health support. Delivering mental health services online is especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic, as this is now the primary arena of communication, owing to restrictions on movement and interpersonal contact. In their presentation and subsequent discussion of online outreach, Moonshot CVE described how such methods are increasingly being developed for people vulnerable to radicalisation.
One example is the placement of advertisements targeting mental health issues (such as loneliness, insecurity, depression, and detachment from family, friends and society) on webpages frequented by people potentially seeking extremist material. Another is work with (national) helplines and volunteers, or with app developers designing self-help apps to improve mental health.
Seeking counselling for mental health issues is commonly considered and felt to be a significant and challenging step for people in distress. The provision of mental health support online could make this step less daunting. A psychiatrist with more than 8 years of experience treating patients online presented his work with telepsychiatry and elaborated on the impact of digitalisation on the mental health sector.
He observed that online therapy increased rapidly during the pandemic, and that online mental health treatment seems to be here to stay. The psychiatrist predicted a rise in digital health, remote consultations and agile working as well as better monitoring using artificial intelligence (for triage, diagnostics and treatments) and virtual reality, in coming years.
This paper summarises the discussion on online outreach to and mental health support for individuals vulnerable to joining extremist groups, and discusses the challenges, limitations and opportunities of P/CVE and online mental health support.