Digital technology emerges as new tool in mental health system

Digital services are proving to be a useful way to deliver mental health support after the pandemic saw more people use technology to access services. 

While digital services have long been touted as a way to transform Australia's mental health system, lockdowns have seen more people access treatment online, over the phone and using video and this uptake has shown the potential of what well-designed digital systems could do.  

Recently, a report from the parliamentary mental health and suicide committee highlighted how digital services would help revolutionise Australia's mental health system.  

Online mental health services can not only help relieve the pressure on in-person support services - which can have long wait times, but can also present less of a barrier for people to access support. Someone might use online tools for anxiety or depression and get evidence-based help while using in-person services to deal with more complex issues.  

Digital tools can be used in a range of ways, across the health system. For example, knowing where to start on improving your wellbeing or physical health can be difficult and confusing. That's why Flourish Australia developed PhysiCards Online.  

Whether it is quitting smoking, managing weight, acting on a toothache, or any other health concerns PhysiCards are a useful tool to not only start conversations, but provide an information hub that connects people to the right services, resources, and supports.  You can see how they work here. 
Connecting with people who have a shared lived experience can also be difficult. The SANE Australia Forums are a moderated online discussion space for people to connect with others about mental health issues. This digital peer-to-peer service is designed to complement in-person support and is free to use.  

Meanwhile, while in-person support has returned Flourish Australia also continues to offer support through video calling and on the phone.  

Ultimately, while there are many applications for technology what will truly unlock the potential of digital tools in our mental health system will be person-focused support that uses the tools, rather than just the introduction of more complicated systems. 

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