“I use these materials to educate patients on eMH services, provide easy access to crisis numbers and to provide other avenues of support when completing MH care plans.”
Psychologist, regional VIC

Overview

Digital mental health resources and services are available online, via mobile or over the phone. Australia is a world leader in the development of reliable digital mental health programs, and these make a substantial contribution to mental health services across Australia.

Practitioners can use digital mental health resources and services as an adjunct to other treatment, or as a stand-alone intervention.

Types of digital mental health resources

Head to Health offers a curated list of digital mental health resources from trusted Australian organisations:

  • Phone, chat, or email counselling, for confidential, professional support—in crises, or to address mental health concerns.
  • Evidence-based web programs and apps that can help build personal skills and track progress—in therapist-assisted or self-guided formats.
  • Forums and other peer support where people can speak to others with similar experiences.
  • Websites by trusted organisations that give information and advice on mental health topics.

Benefits of digital mental health

These resources and services can offer:

    • Web-based CBT has shown substantial impact in randomised controlled trials. 

    • Largest effects are shown by therapist-supported services (which typically result in >70% treatment completion rates, 50% reduction in symptoms sustained over time), but unguided resources can also show significant benefits (<25% treatment completion rate, 25% reduction in symptoms). 

    • The most evidence is for treatments targeting major depression and generalised anxiety, but strong effects have been found for treating conditions such as OCD, PTSD, health anxiety, chronic pain, and others. 

    • Positive effects are seen with sub-clinical symptoms as well as in established disorders.

    • There is less evidence for apps, which often focus on specific symptoms or skills.
  • Many are available anytime, anywhere—with no waiting time. So, they allow people to seek support in times of need, and when it is most convenient for them. Even if people have slow or unreliable online access, mobile apps and phone support can still be used.
  • Many services are either free or low-cost to use.
  • If patients are unwilling to see a mental health practitioner, digital services offer an attractive alternative. Some can even be used anonymously.
  • A positive experience from digital interventions is an excellent introduction to other forms of psychological treatment.
  • The number and variety of digital resources and services provides for substantial individual choice.
  • Digital resources allow users to learn or review concepts and skills online, maximising the impact of clinical sessions.

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Page last updated 1st June 2021