Whilst the COVID pandemic has created numerous obstacles over the last few years, it has
played a vital role in revealing the deficiencies within the mental healthcare sector.
Accessibility to the correct supports at the right time became visible particularly during
lockdowns, combined with the increased pressure faced by healthcare staff as the need for
emergency mental health treatments increased.

All across the sector, online/digital mental
health services are being used for these and many other reasons. These technological
developments and improvements to the provision of healthcare have advanced our
understanding of the fragility of our mental health. It’s an exciting time to envision where the
mental health industry is going as we continue to remove barriers, ask questions, and pay
attention to public conversations and concerns.

Telehealth and Digital Mental Health Services

Over the last few years, attending therapy and gaining other mental health assistance has
migrated from traditional face-to-face contact, to now largely a virtual encounter. Patients
now have greater access to care regardless of their location or circumstance thanks to video
consultations.

This expanding modern approach to medicine is not only saving patients’
travel time but is also removing the hurdles to accessing drugs sought during these
consultations.

Electronic script drugs can be sent immediately to the patient’s phone,
enabling patient’s rapid access to go and obtain their medication. Additionally, patients can
keep in touch with their doctor through online chat, and in some cases, private patient
portals give them access to their records and treatment plan.

One example of a new digital mental health service established by the Clinical Research
Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUFAD) is called THIS WAY UP (TWU). It employs
interactive comic strips to teach Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) concepts in an online
format.

Treatment is self-guided and may be conducted anywhere, any time. The treatment
is flexible enough to be received by the client at any time or location that is convenient for
them, rather than only during a one-on-one appointment, according to the Australian College
of Nursing.

These initiatives, along with numerous others made available by General Practitioners (GPs)
and commercial organisations, enable vulnerable individuals and children to get the timely
mental health care they require.

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to seeking
mental health support, but technology is eradicating this barrier by removing the necessity of
travelling to an unknown location. Users of these services are able to communicate candidly
and confidentially in the security of a nonthreatening environment. This is a crucial step in
making these services seem approachable rather than intimidating.

Injury-Informed Care

According to the New South Wales (NSW) Government, “trauma-informed care is a method
to service delivery based on an awareness of the ways trauma affects people’s lives, their
service requirements, and service consumption.” This method has been a vital player in the
COVID-19 epidemic for both staff and patients and includes collaboration, safety,
empowerment, choice, and trustworthiness into its core concepts.

The following methods that GP offices, hospitals, and other community mental health
centres have included trauma-informed care;

1. More flexible cancellation procedures are needed since many patients may face
obstacles that prohibit them from arriving at appointments on time.
2. When possible, sensitive questions are asked in-person rather than over video
telemedicine calls.
3. For healthcare professionals, this may entail providing proper supervision and
training in self-care practises.
4. Knowing the potential re-traumatization triggers and using caution when discussing
them
5. Changing the terminology used by professionals to describe patients in daily
interactions and case notes

Treatment emphasises optimism and, when feasible, embracing positivism without assigning
guilt, which was particularly common during times of lockdown and ambiguity. Programs
using the trauma-informed practise paradigm, according to Mental Health Australia, have
been shown to reduce symptoms, improve everyday functioning, and reduce the need for
hospitalisation and crisis intervention.

More specialised services for mental health

Since the start of the epidemic, numerous new programmes and services have been
launched in the field of mental health.

In comparison to the budget for 2007-2008, when spending on mental health had just
recently surpassed $1 billion for the first time, NSW’s recurring budget for mental health
services in 2019–20 was $2.1 billion. Better specialist, and online help in a variety of ways,
are possible to be implemented with this additional budget.

People now have more access to mental health help thanks to digital health platforms like
Headspace, the Black Dog Institute, and Beyond Blue as well as social media sites and
podcasts. The stigma associated with mental health is fading as a result of services like
these, which motivates people to educate themselves without bias.

The NSW government has identified the LGBTQI+ community as a group that is more likely
to experience discrimination, stigma, and exclusion. They have spent money on resources to
establish a welcoming environment for diversity and inclusion.

The NSW government implemented the Strategy for Preventing and Responding to
Domestic and Family Abuse 2021–2026 in response to the surge in domestic violence. This
programme makes sure that victims and their dependents can always find protection,
assistance, and sanctuary.

Hospital-Based Psychiatric Services are Becoming Community-Based

Both the patient and the hospital system gain from the move of mental health care delivery
from the hospital to the community. Community programmes are promoting mental health
awareness, which is a beneficial change from the prior focus on longer patient stays and
more frequent hospital admissions.

A prime example is the NSW Government’s Pathways to Community Living Initiative, which
was created as part of the Mental Health Reform 2014–2024 initiative (PCLI). It attempts to
serve patients who have lengthy stays (more than 365 days) in inpatient mental health
facilities. This programme and numerous others emphasise the move away from hospital
care.

As was mentioned here, there has been a noticeable change in our community’s perception
of mental health vulnerability. Barriers will soon disappear, enabling safe, open access to
mental health care for all as technology advances and we become better at understanding
individuals who may appear different from ourselves and at asking questions of and
engaging with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.