Newly diagnosed cancer patients across the United Kingdom (UK) are now able to easily access innovative and effective treatments to support their mental health thanks to a new partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and digital therapeutics company Big Health, makers of Sleepio and Daylight[i]. The partnership delivers on a shared vision to address the growing need to provide rapid, equitable mental health support to newly diagnosed cancer patients.
Insomnia and anxiety are two of the biggest unmet needs for people with cancer in the UK[ii] and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Research by Macmillan revealed before the pandemic, one in five people with cancer were also living with a long-term mental health condition, and that long-term conditions overall were potentially associated with poorer cancer survival rates and a higher level of need[iii]. More recent figures show that at the end of 2020, 870,000 people with cancer across the UK (29%) were left feeling stressed, anxious or depressed because of the Covid-19 pandemic[iv].
The partnership between Macmillan and Big Health will provide newly diagnosed cancer patients aged 18 and older residing in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland free access to Sleepio for insomnia and Daylight for anxiety to manage their mental health needs. This new partnership has the potential to help reduce NHS waiting lists for face-to-face therapy and expands upon Big Health’s existing partnership with NHS Scotland, through which all Scottish adults already have access to Sleepio and Daylight. It also provides an option for those people with cancer who don’t want to, or aren’t able to, access in-person mental health support. Further information about the offer is available at www.bighealth.co.uk/macmillan.
Hannah Redmond, Director of Commercial Partnerships and Innovation at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer can impact so much more than a person’s physical health, it can impact their mental health and quality of life too. We are delighted to be partnering with Big Health so that together we can help improve the lives of people living with cancer across the UK. We know that many people struggle with sleep, worry and anxiety as a result of their cancer diagnosis, so providing this group with free access to Sleepio and Daylight means they can benefit from vital mental health support when they need it most. We look forward to continuing our work with Big Health and ensuring all people with cancer can access this crucial support in future.”
Sleepio and Daylight provide highly personalised, round-the-clock, accessible treatment for insomnia and anxiety by guiding users through evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), accessed via web browser and smartphone app. Gold-standard randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have shown that nearly three quarters (71%) of patients who used Daylight achieved a reduction in anxiety[v] and just over three quarters (76%) who used Sleepio achieved clinical improvement in sleep[vi].
Donna, 43, from South London, who received a cancer diagnosis in early 2022, said: “When I was told about my cancer, the feelings I had of worry and anxiety went through the roof. Since then, I’ve been using Daylight and it has given me the tools and techniques that I didn’t know I needed to manage my anxiety – and I will use them forever. I was sceptical at first and could not imagine that an app on my phone could help me as much as it has. I’m now confident that I can deal with the situations and feelings that used to completely overwhelm me and feel that my anxiety is no longer something that holds me back. It has changed my life.”
The partnership aligns with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance recommending CBT as a first-line treatment for anxiety and insomnia. However, the demand for in-person therapy in the UK vastly outstrips capacity, leaving many patients facing long waiting lists.
Big Health recently became the first-ever digital therapeutics company to secure NICE approval for one of its treatments, Sleepio, indicating that digital therapeutics have the potential to both improve patient experience and deliver significant cost savings for the NHS by providing extra capacity across mental health services.
Sleepio and Daylight are rigorously and clinically evaluated in partnership with leading research institutions including University of Oxford and John Hopkins University. Studies are published in top peer-reviewed journals to ensure quality and transparency.
Heather Cook, UK Director for Big Health, said: “Ensuring access for cancer patients to gold standard digital therapeutics, such as Daylight and Sleepio, can help significantly to address their mental health needs, which in turn could have a real impact on quality of life. Clinically evidenced digital therapeutics can help to address the current backlog in mental health care, opening up greater access to effective round-the-clock care and reducing the pressures on face-to-face services, while providing proven tools for people to manage their mental health outside of a clinical setting, where and when they need to.”
For more information about Sleepio and Daylight, including how people with cancer can access these services, visit www.bighealth.co.uk/macmillan.
About Big Health
Big Health’s mission is to help millions back to good mental health by providing safe and effective non-drug alternatives for the most common mental health conditions. Designed by leading clinical experts and backed by 13 RCTs, Sleepio™ for insomnia and Daylight™ for worry and anxiety are among the world’s most evidenced digital mental health solutions. These programmes seamlessly integrate into primary care, enabling clinically effective self-management of mental health. With offices in London and San Francisco, Big Health’s digital therapeutics are used by leading health systems like the NHS and large multinational employers. For more information, please visit https://www.bighealth.co.uk/
About Macmillan Cancer Support
At Macmillan, we give people with cancer everything we’ve got. If you’re diagnosed, your worries are our worries. We will move mountains to help you live life as fully as you can.
And we don’t stop there. We’re going all out to find even better ways to help people with cancer, helping to bring forward the day when everyone gets life-transforming support from day one.
We won’t rest, and we won’t settle for anything other than the best possible support for people with cancer.
We do whatever it takes.
Notes to Editors
1. The offer to access Big Health’s services for free is currently open to all cancer patients aged 18 and older across the UK diagnosed in 2022.
2. Anyone living with or beyond cancer in Scotland can access Big Health’s services for free, regardless of when they were diagnosed, via an existing partnership with the Scottish Government.
Big Health Media Contact:
[i] Disclaimer: In the UK, Sleepio and Daylight are CE marked medical devices available for the treatment of Insomnia Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, respectively.
In the US, in accordance with FDA’s Current Enforcement Discretion Policy for Digital Health Devices for Psychiatric Disorders, for patients aged 18 years and older, who are followed by and diagnosed with Insomnia Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder by a medical provider, Sleepio and Daylight can be made available as an adjunct to their usual medical care for Insomnia Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, respectively. Sleepio and Daylight do not replace the care of a medical provider or the patient’s medication. Sleepio and Daylight have not been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for these indications.
[ii] Macmillan Cancer Support and Populus paper and online survey of 6,905 people recently treated for, or diagnosed in the last 5 years with, cancer across the UK. Fieldwork July-September 2019. Survey data has been weighted to be representative of recently treated cancer population (Cancer Registration data) in terms of age, gender and cancer type within England. The weighting of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales has been based on cancer prevalence data.
[iii] Macmillan Cancer Support. The burden of cancer and other long-term health conditions. April 2015
[iv] Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov survey of 2,904 adults with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd — 22nd December 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the living with cancer population. 870,000 figure estimated by applying the 29% to the 3 million people living with cancer in the UK. 3 million figure is taken from: Macmillan Cancer Support. Calculating cancer prevalence. Accessed March 2022
[v] ‘Reduction in anxiety’ defined as reporting levels of anxiety below the threshold for a probable clinical diagnosis of anxiety at a follow-up point 10 weeks after the start of treatment. Carl JR, Miller CB, Henry AL, Davis ML, Stott R, Smits JA & Espie CA. Efficacy of digital cognitive behavioral therapy for moderate‐to‐severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Depression and Anxiety 2020; 37(12): 1168-1178[vi] ‘Improvement in sleep’ defined as 80% or more of total time in bed being spent asleep at the end of the trial. Espie CA, Kyle SD, Williams C, Ong JC, Douglas NJ, Hames P & Brown JS. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of online cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic insomnia disorder delivered via an automated media-rich web application. Sleep 2012; 35(6): 769-781.
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