eFriend came about as an immediate response to the COVID-19 situation in Australia. It is a free virtual platform to provide peer support and connection to people if they’re feeling down, lonely, stressed, isolated or worried.
An eFriend Peer is a ‘Peer Support Worker’ – which is someone employed on the basis of their personal lived experience of mental illness, suicidality and recovery (consumer peer worker), or their experience of supporting family or friends with mental illness (carer peer worker). This lived experience is an essential qualification for their job, in addition to other skills and experience required for the Peer role, including training in Trauma-Informed Care, Suicide Awareness and Prevention, and Safe Storytelling.
What services does eFriend offer?
eFriend offers 5-10 virtual peer support sessions, with each session held with the same person (and a choice of whether sessions are conducted by video or phone call). eFriend sessions are scheduled for 30-mins each week. While eFriends do not provide crisis support, counselling, or mental health treatment, they can listen, talk through ideas and concerns, and can provide information about other services and referral options that are available.
eFriend also has a variety of helpful free resources and service directories to support their peer support sessions. They also have a blog covering topics such as anxiety, loneliness, self-care, dyslexia, chronic pain and more. To find out more about the services offered through eFriend, head to their website here.
What are the benefits of using eFriend?
Choosing to participate in a program such as eFriend has a range of benefits for mental health and wellbeing. This includes:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved emotional resilience
- Increased self-confidence
- Developing tools, techniques and skills to address mental health challenges
- Increased local support network
Who is eFriend for?
eFriend is for anyone in Australia aged 18 and over who is feeling down, stressed, lonely, isolated, worried, suicidal, or is struggling with chronic health conditions and needs someone to talk to who will listen, without judgement. Individuals do not need a mental health diagnosis or referral to take part in the eFriend program.
eFriend peers also have access to a wide range of resources, and can help refer individuals to other services for more specialised support.
What is the aim of eFriend?
eFriend is funded by a government grant and aims to provide support to all Australians experiencing stress, anxiety, loneliness, worry, and isolation. The program also has expansive directories and referrals to provide those caring for an individual experiencing mental health struggles with services which can assist.
The eFriend program also aims to:
- Provide social connection
- Assist participants in seeking support and reaching out to their local network
- Encourage participants to practice self-care and create a safety plan if needed
- Guide participants to the correct clinical mental health service pathways
Is there a cost to use eFriend?
eFriend has no cost and is a free service that is enabled through a government grant.
How to access eFriend
Individuals can access eFriend via the website (https://icla.org.au/efriend/), where they can go through a brief registration process and then book their first call. To book a call, head to their website here.
When can eFriend be accessed?
As eFriend is an online only service, anyone can access their resources at a time that suits them. Peer support sessions are also online through phone and video call, and can be scheduled at a time that suits your needs and schedule
eFriend Program Research
The eFriend program was developed by the Independent Community Living Australia (ICLA), using the non-clinical ‘befriending’ methodology as well as mental health peer work to provide well-rounded support for people experiencing loneliness, trauma, stress, anxiety or distress. The ICLA has over 30 years of experience in delivering support for those living with mental illness or psychological disability.