web services can overcome the barriers that block access to mental health care, according to an article published in a Medical Journal of Australia supplement.
The Delivering timely interventions: the impact of the internet on mental health supplement is the product of a partnership between the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University and the Brain & Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney.
Prof Helen Christensen, Director of the Centre for Mental Health Research, and Prof Ian Hickie, Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute, write that web-based mental health services have the capacity to not only overcome traditional geographical, attitudinal and financial barriers to accessing care, but also to lower overall delivery costs and reduce demands on the clinical workforce.
Profs Christensen and Hickie said that in recent years, the proportion of Australian adults with current mental health problems using traditional health care services had not increased. This was despite the apparent success of public awareness campaigns that promoted help seeking and some substantial changes in primary care-based approaches to the provision of medical and psychological treatments.
"In reality, the structures, distribution and costs that currently underpin our primary and secondary care services make them relatively unavailable to many of those in need," Profs Christensen and Hickie said.
"Despite the strong arguments in favour of early intervention in youth mental health, it is this group who are most neglected by the current arrangements.
"By contrast, young people with difficulties are increasingly seeking informal and formal help online."
The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.