Mental Health Month is an initiative of the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA), advocating for raising awareness of Australian mental health and promoting better mental health for all. This year the National Mental Health Month theme is ‘building resilience: communities and connections. At eMHPrac we would like to explore the digital perspective; how online tools and programs can support health professionals delivering mental health care.
Digital mental health resources are online treatment programs, information sites, apps, peer support services and counselling services delivered online, on a mobile device or over the phone. These resources can be self-driven or practitioner guided, used independently or in combination with face-to-face treatment. These services can be grouped into two categories; treatment programs and tools. Treatment programs include complete courses of treatment delivered online for a range of different audiences. Tools include apps, websites and other digital tools that support different aspects of mental health.
There are many benefits to digital mental health resources including accessibility, empowerment and versatility. Many digital mental health programs and tools are free or low cost, providing high quality support that can be as effective as face to face treatment, particularly with additional practitioner support. They can be very useful in the prevention and early intervention, helping individuals understand, track and address their mental health and wellbeing.
What Do We Do?
eMHPrac (e-Mental Health in Practice) is funded by the Australian Government to raise health practitioners awareness and knowledge of digital mental health. We provide free training and support to allied health professionals, GPs and service providers working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about using digital mental health resources in their work.
eMHPrac is led by Queensland University of Technology in partnership with Black Dog Institute, The University Centre for Rural Health North Coast and Menzies School of Health Research. As a consortium we develop resources and training to support health professionals learning how to find, assess and start using digital mental health resources with their clients, as well as recommending a range of suitable digital mental health resources.
The eMHPrac Website
Our website is designed to support health professionals in getting started with digital mental health resources. Our Resource Library provides a range of educational resources to assist health practitioners to learn about, navigate and user evidence-based digital mental health programs and tools. This includes guides, brochures, factsheets, webinars, videos and the eMHPrac podcast Digital Mental Health Musings. One of our key resources is the eMHprac Guide to Digital Mental Health Resources providing a useful overview of various Australian online programs, apps, crisis lines and information sites listed by diagnosis, target group, organisation and delivery mode. The eMHPrac website also includes an eMH Directory, a web version of our Guide to Digital Mental Health Resources, upcoming events and training, research evidence and more.
Black Dog Institute – Resources for Health Professionals
Connecting health professionals to online programs, resources and primary care information.
Australia is moving towards a stepped care model of mental health treatment where the needs of each patient are matched with the intensity of care they receive. e-Mental health treatments are an appropriate treatment option for many patients with mild to moderate conditions and, in some cases, may be the only treatment that a patient requires.
e-Mental Health in Practice, or eMHPrac, is a suite of online training modules, webinars and e-resources designed to introduce health professionals to online programs and tools, and to demonstrate how e-mental health technologies can be integrated into primary care.
Take a look here: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/education-services/e-mental-health-in-practice/
Join the Community of Practice
Black Dog Institute’s Mental Health Community of Practice is a private online community for Health Professionals with an interest in Mental Health offered through the eMHPrac project.
Sign up at https://medcast.com.au/communities/black-dog-institute
WellMob – a digital library of Indigenous mental health and wellbeing resources
WellMob links to over 250 online wellbeing resources made for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These include apps, videos, pdfs, social media and other websites on a range of mental health and wellbeing issues.
Whatever your role, the website makes it easy to find and share culturally-relevant resources in your work with Indigenous people. Search the website to quickly find a suitable online resource in 3 clicks.
Take time to explore the website here. Click on one of the six main topic tiles as shown in the image. Once on a topic page, the advanced search allows you to filter results by resource type, health condition and target audience.
To watch a short video with tips on how to use WellMob in your work, click here.
To watch other videos of different health practiitoners sharing how they use WellMob and online resources in their work, click here.
The Stay Strong App
Menzies’ AIMhi Stay Strong team works with First Nations communities to develop and evaluate wellbeing resources. In 2012, paper-based wellbeing resources were converted to the Stay Strong App in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology. The AIMhi Stay Strong App is a digital tool that uses a cross-cultural approach to wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The app is based on many years of research and collaboration and encompasses 4 steps that centre on a person’s social supports, strengths, worries and goals for lifestyle change. Users identify the people in their life that help keep them strong, things that keep them strong, and things that take their strength away (spiritual and cultural; physical; family, social and work; and mental and emotional). Users are then left with a visual representation of the areas in their life where they are strong and the areas in their life where they are not as strong. They are then supported to develop or set their own goals for lifestyle change.
The AIMhi Stay Strong App can assist wellbeing workers to deliver cost-effective, evidence-based brief wellbeing support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Stay Strong app is visual, interactive and suitable for workers of varied backgrounds and skills.
This person-centred approach to wellbeing helps to identify personal behavioural goals and assists in developing a plan for achieving them by breaking them down into manageable steps. Help text and audio instructions assist users in this process. A summary of the Stay Strong Plan can then be emailed, printed or saved to keep a record of the persons story and plans. The app, once downloaded, does not require ongoing access to the Internet for its use.
The AIMhi Stay Strong App is acceptable, appropriate and feasible for delivery by workers of any background and requires minimal training. There is growing evidence of the effectiveness of this practical approach to wellbeing care.
Getting Started with Digital Mental Health Resources
A great place to start with digital mental health is the Head to Health Digital Gateway. Head to Health is the Australian Governments online portal connecting people to trusted, appropriate online and phone mental health services. Services listed on Head to Health are delivered by Australia’s most trusted mental health service provides including free or low-cost apps, online support communities, online courses, and phone services that are private and secure.