Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Government Seems To Be Trying To Make a Difference With Mental E-Health. Good Heavens It’s Actually Evidence Based!

This release appeared last week:

New Online Forums to Support People Living with Mental Illness

Support for people living with mental illness and their family, friends and carers is the focus of two new online forums launched by the Minister for Health, Peter Dutton.
Page last updated: 27 August 2014
27 August 2014
Support for people living with mental illness and their family, friends and carers is the focus of two new online forums launched in Canberra today by the Minister for Health, Peter Dutton.
Minister Dutton said the SANE Australia Online Forums would help people by giving them trusted and anonymous access to reliable mental health information, advice and referrals.
“While almost half of the Australian population will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives, only 46 per cent of this group will seek any form of support or treatment,” Minister Dutton said.
“We know that there are many reasons that people do not seek treatment like a fear of being stigmatised, living too far from a medical practitioner and not knowing how to get information and care. Online mental health services like the new SANE Australia Online Forums can combat this to reach people who might otherwise not receive the support they need.”
The two forums – one for carers and one for people living with mental illness – were developed by SANE Australia with funding from the Department of Health and will provide nationwide online peer-to-peer support services.
“Today, the Internet is a major source of health and medical information” Minister Dutton said.
“International and Australian research has demonstrated that online therapy can be just as effective for people with anxiety and depression as face-to-face therapy.”
“The Government recognises the potential of e-health and e-mental health to improve health outcomes for Australians, wherever they live. We are investing in e-mental health as part of our overall plan to build stronger, better, primary health care,” he said.
The SANE Australia Forums will complement existing e-mental health services which the Government is providing funding of $122 million over the next four years.
To access the SANE online forums, please see the Carers and Lived Experience forums website.
The full release is found here:
Here is the link to the forums:
There is a post on the motivation for all this on the Croaky blog:

Taking care of each other online

| Aug 25, 2014 8:06AM | EMAIL | PRINT
One of the benefits of the Internet is its use as a tool to create communities among people who previously would have been isolated from each other.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the growth of online forums for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.  These are playing an increasingly important role in providing information, support and assistance to people with serious and chronic illnesses but they remain an under-researched area of the health system.   Susan Stewart Loane, a PhD Researcher at Macquarie University, is addressing this gap through her research and provides the following report of her findings. She writes:
No one had heard from Tracey for a while, which was a concern because Tracey had Motor Neuron Disease (MND).  Members of Tracey’s social circle tried valiantly to contact her with no success.  Finally, someone decided to drive 250km to her house and check that she was ok.  She was.  She’d had a fall and was too dizzy to use the computer.  The friend got the message out and everyone was relieved.  But a week later Tracey still hadn’t got in touch and they started to worry again.  Someone who lived closer (but who barely knew Tracey) offered to drive to her house and check on her.  Again Tracey was found to be ok, but still recovering.
What is extraordinary about this story is that all of those involved, the two people who visited Tracey and the more than 100 people who were concerned, are strangers to each other.  Their only connection to each other, and to Tracey, is that they all have MND or know someone who has, and they are all members of an online forum for people living with MND.
Online health forums are typically known as places where information about treatment and symptoms is shared between people who are ill, and where strangers deliver online support to one another.  As a researcher in this field I make a point of asking my own medical service providers, as well as medically-trained friends, for their view of online health communities.  Few have ever used one, but around half of those I’ve asked express concerns about unsafe information being shared or about the general weirdness of strangers comparing medical details across geographic borders.  The most positive reactions come from more experienced medical specialists who are excited about the potential for people to provide forms of support to each other than can’t sustainably be provided within the health system.
My research** has convinced me that genuine bonds can develop between people who use online forums for health purposes.  Social support delivered through posts and threads can build community, as evidenced by Tracey’s story.  Communities look after their members in ways that bureaucrats and formal service providers cannot.  Unless a doctor or other health professional has experienced the same health condition, they simply can’t communicate with their patients in the same way that a fellow-sufferer can. 
Lots more here:
Here are the 2 references cited
Stewart Loane, S., Webster, C. M., & D’Alessandro, S. (2014). Identifying Consumer Value Co-created through Social Support within Online Health Communities. Journal of Macromarketing, Online First.
Stewart Loane, S., & D’Alessandro, S. (2013). Peer-to-Peer Value through Social Capital in an online Motor Neuron Disease Community. Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing, 25(2), 164-185.
Here is the abstract from the most recent paper:

Identifying Consumer Value Co-created through Social Support within Online Health Communities

  1. Susan Stewart Loane1
  2. Cynthia M. Webster1
  3. Steven D’Alessandro2


Consumers increasingly turn to online health communities for health information and social support. Yet, the type of value consumers derive from online health communities is not well understood. This study examines social support as the mechanism through which consumers co-create and experience different types of value. Cutrona and Russell’s typology of social support and Holbrook’s consumer value typology are applied to posts and threads obtained from two online communities for people with Parkinson’s Disease and ALS. Results demonstrate that online health communities give consumers the opportunity to create and experience forms of consumer value that would not otherwise be available in a traditional health delivery system. The results lend support to a re-conceptualisation of medical practice and health delivery for consumers with chronic conditions.
Here is the link:
How good is this!
A funded government initiative which has an evidence base! I look forward to some deeper evaluation of what works and what doesn’t after a year or two of operation.
Pity there was not similar attention paid to evidence with respect to the PCEHR.

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