Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Expanding help-seeking options for young people by delivering mental health services online – the eheadspace experience

Young people have the highest need for mental health care across the lifespan, yet the lowest level of service use. Improving access to appropriate mental health care and increasing engagement with services is a priority for mental health reform in Australia. Providing services and interventions via online and mobile technologies is increasingly a focus for improving access and engagement for young people.

It is argued that because of the almost universal uptake and integration of online and mobile communication within young people’s lives, this is one of the best ways to reach this age group. eheadspace has been developed to augment the headspace youth mental health initiative to increase access to mental health care through a national online and telephone support service for young people.

eheadspace was rolled-out nationally in October 2011 and comprises a clinically supervised, youth-friendly, online mental health information and support service that offers an accessible ‘soft entry’ point to the mental health system.

This paper will describe the development and roll-out of eheadspace and present data on the characteristics of young people accessing the service. The limitations and challenges of such an online intervention approach will be described, with discussions about the role of such approaches in the mental health care system.

Ms Carmen Garrett, headspace will present at the
4th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium to be held on the 19 - 21 November 2012, Adelaide, South Australia.

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  1. The eheadspace service is a great initiative that will help many young people access mental health care in Australia. The accessibility and reach of online and mobile technologies within this age group will mean that more young people can access a range of great resources to assist them in times of need. This service will be a great 'first point of call' for young people who are often embarrassed or ashamed to seek external support from family, friends and medical professionals. At Anxiety Allies, we aim to achieve a similar goal, by reaching out to people with anxiety disorders. I will definitely be recommending this program to our followers!

  2. It is great that young people will have greater access to mental health care in Australia. Online and mobile technologies are extremely popular in this age group, which I am sure will lead to more people accessing mental health information and support services.

    As a support group for people with anxiety, Anxiety Allies aims to raise awareness and understanding of anxiety by reducing the stigma of these disorders. However, we also seek to offer our followers services to assist and support them when they are going through difficult periods in their recovery. This will be a great tool for them to use as a "first point of call" in the mental health system.