An online mental health website, led by Swinburne’s National e-Therapy Centre, continues to expand, offering free online video or instant messaging therapy sessions for those needing support.
The website, Mental Health Online, funded by the Australian Department of Health, offers free access to trained therapists who support those facing mental health difficulties. The new therapy options are offered in addition to previously provided email therapy.
“The addition of these new therapy options to the Mental Health Online service is really helping people who are struggling with mental health issues to engage with and get more out of the online programs and they have been really popular since we introduced them,” says Swinburne Project Manager Fiona Foley.
“We understand that there can be many obstacles for those who are seeking mental health support. With Mental Health Online we wanted to remove some of those obstacles, especially cost, to make sure people can access a level of support catered to their needs.”
“It is extremely important to our team that mental health support be accessible and available to all, especially those in rural and remote areas who may not have access to face-to-face services.”
Assessment and treatment
Mental Health Online is designed to help those experiencing mental distress understand, assess and support their needs.
The website includes resources and services to help those dealing with difficulties including anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
- High-quality information and resources to help people understand mental health difficulties and their treatment;
- A comprehensive online psychological self-assessment program to help assess the type and severity of difficulties people are experiencing, and to suggest treatments, including free programs and therapist support;
- Free 12-week online evidence-based treatment programs which are completed in the client’s own time;
- Free optional access to therapists to support users through their treatment program. Provided via email, users can also add free video or instant messaging sessions.
Building on success
Mental Health Online was launched as Anxiety Online in 2009 and has attracted more than 70,000 users. Swinburne has continued to grow its expertise in the digital mental health space, successfully attracting funding to develop and trial two additional digital mental health interventions:
- An online personal recovery-based intervention for people who experience psychosis called SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Technology), funded by the Victorian Department of Health’s mental illness research fund, was developed and trialled from 2013 to 2018 with over 300 people who experience psychosis.
- The ORBIT (Online Recovery-Oriented Bipolar Individual Tool) program was developed and launched in 2017, following National Health and Medical Research Council funding. The trial is ongoing with hundreds of people who experience bipolar disorder from around the world having signed up.
Ms Foley is also involved in the ORBIT program and says that feedback from participants in the program has been positive. She encourages anyone who might be interested in trying out the programs to get in quickly as there are limited places available.
“Users have found the website design user-friendly and simple to navigate,” she says.
“Our participants have enjoyed working with their online coaches, and found the interactive discussion forums helpful as they worked through the material. Participants felt that they learned new skills and that their involvement in the study helped others in the bipolar community.”