Wednesday, April 03, 2013

It Is Really Good To See E-Mental Health Being Properly Supported By Government.

The following appeared a week or so ago.

Online therapy delivers savings

Associate Professor Nick Titov, of Macquarie University, has been delivering online counselling for over five years now and in May, will oversee the official launch of the Federal Government’s MindSpot Clinic, a free online therapy service aiming to deliver treatment to around 40,000 Australians in the next three years.
Funded with $16.5 million between Jun 2012 and Jul 2015, the Clinic is a key part of the government’s e-Mental Health Strategy.
The clinic was soft-launched some months ago, and around 25 new patients a day are self-referring, Dr Titov says - meaning they simply find the website and sign up.
“We have seen excellent clinical results and 95 percent of the people involved have said in survey feedback that they would refer the treatment to a friend.”
Online therapy is far cheaper to deliver than face-to-face therapy, he says.
“It does reduce the cost because it reduces the amount of therapist time. A therapist might spend five to ten hours treating each patient with anxiety or depression. But for an online treatment it’s only 1.5 hours of therapist time. We let the technology to do a lot of the skill-building.”
The software teaches new techniques, while the therapist is “a guide and support person through this journey,” he says.
“In the process of recovery people are learning new skills and they are challenging their beliefs and thoughts.”
The online therapy delivers additional benefits because it can track a lot of clinical information about a patient, such as their mood – which they register each time they log in – and their responses to queries.
“We are using IT-smarts to support the role of the clinician,” he says. “The therapist can see who logged in and anyone with an elevated mood score they can straightaway guide and direct the therapist to contact earlier on. We can help people before things get hard.”
Lots more here:
I have to say this is really good news that the use of the internet has become so accepted in the Mental Health domain. With the frequency of significant mental illness at very high levels (near to ½ the population will have a significant episode at some time in their life apparently - see this link for the details
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Mental_illness_prevalence) we were never going to have enough therapists to help everyone who needed it. Saving money might be one motivation but simply being able to make some dent in the demand for service is surely another.

This is where the programs such as that described above can make a real and evidence based difference.
Keep up to good work - and evaluation - is all I can say!
David.

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