E-mental health strategy for Australia

Part one - Why have a strategy?

Page last updated: June 2012

The Australian Government, through this Strategy, is moving from funding a small number of proven and successful online mental health and telephone crisis support services, to a respected, evidence based, accessible, professionally recognised and integrated e-mental health service environment.

Research in Australia and internationally shows that outcomes for those who participate in online therapies are broadly comparable to those of face to face services using similar treatment techniques. E-mental health services are accessible, allowing people to access these services at a time and place that is convenient to them, and offer an effective alternative to conventional treatments for people who live in areas with limited services, have difficulty with transport or are reluctant to engage with face to face services.

Underpinning this expansion is the current investment that has been undertaken by the Australian Government through a number of e-mental health services under the Telephone Counselling, Self Help and Web-based Support Programme, which commenced in 2006. This program has demonstrated the value of e-mental health services and provided insight into service gaps and future opportunities for the continued development of online and telephone services.

Consumers currently seeking online mental health assistance have little guidance in knowing where to look for and identifying proven and effective services, appropriate for their needs. The Australian Government recognises that access to appropriate services and the opportunity to engage professional, online and telephone support is essential to assist people with mental health disorders. The investments being made in support of this Strategy will improve access to e-mental health services.

This E-Mental Health Strategy for Australia will also provide guidance on the investment and development of online health services, leading to the establishment of online services as an integral part of the primary mental health care system and the growth of our new e-mental health sector. Consumers, carers, policy makers, health practitioners, researchers and the wider community will find the information outlined in this Strategy useful – particularly in its background about existing e-mental health services and the future plans for improving access to online services, continued investment in the innovation of new services and planned linkages with the traditional health care system.
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