Mental health is one of Australia's most significant health issues, with almost half of the population experiencing mental illness at some point in their lives. Furthermore, 54% of those experiencing poor mental health will not access any treatment. These figures are alarming in their own right, often materialising into high suicide rates. As a society, we are facing an uphill battle when it comes to reducing the prevalence of such health conditions.
Two upcoming events this month aim to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention:
- World Suicide Awareness Day (September 10th) is a worldwide awareness event to encourage discussions about suicide causes and prevention, as well as influence governments to implement suicide prevention strategies.
- R U OK? Day (September 12th) is run by an Australian non-profit suicide prevention organisation. They advocate using the slogan 'R U OK?' in conversation with others, to check on the mental health of family, friends and co-workers. To get involved, click here.
In addition to these annual events, PM Scott Morrison has recently appointed a new suicide prevention adviser, Christine Morgan, to assess Australia's current suicide prevention strategies, which are objectively failing. She has been advised to return in 18 months with future recommendations, to completely overhaul our current system. We are confident that digital strategies, such as telehealth, will be included in her recommendations.
Here at Coviu, we are passionate about improving the mental health of all Australians. Telehealth not only breaks down distance barriers for rural and remote Australians in need of care, and patients can avoid negative stigmas, by having private sessions from the comfort of their own home.
The CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, Ann Mond Johnson, highlighted that video consultations, particularly those for mental health services, often compel the patient and provider to actually look each other in the eye. She also explains that telehealth improves interactions for patients that are uncomfortable seeing healthcare providers in person. The existence of a screen or ‘barrier’ between both parties can encourage the patient to be more honest and forthcoming about issues or concerns that they may have. This, in turn, improves patient health outcomes.
Just this year, Coviu also partnered with Swinburne University to release a new 'snapchat-like-' text-only feature, which provides patients with access to private and discreet mental health services. Since its rollout on Swinburne’s Mental Health Online service in March, the text- chat feature has become one of the most common modalities used by clients, according to Dr Liz Seabrook, Digital Mental Health Fellow at Swinburne. “For many clients, a real-time text chat session is a practical first step into talking with a health practitioner, which for some can be quite confronting,” she says. The service is free and available to all Australians.
We've also created a comprehensive list of mental health rebates that general practitioners can claim through medicare.
Beyondblue 1300 224 636
Lifeline, 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.