QUT will take a lead role in delivering a $6.5 million e-mental health initiative to train primary health practitioners in the use of e-mental health services, announced by the Federal Government in Canberra today.
The e-Mental Health in Practice (eMHPrac) initiative will be led by QUT in collaboration with the Menzies School of Health Research, The University Centre for Rural Health at the University of Sydney, the Australian National University and the Black Dog Institute.
Professors David Kavanagh and Robert King, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said the project would promote e-mental health to GPs, psychologists and allied health workers across Australia, and would train and support more than 15,000 practitioners in the use of e-mental health services.
"Mental health-related conditions such as depression, anxiety or substance use disorder affect around 45 per cent of Australians aged 16-85. E-health services are a proven way to treat and support people through telephone, mobile phone, computer and online applications," Professor Kavanagh said.
"The effect of mental illness can be severe on individuals and families, and its impacts are far-reaching for the community as a whole."
Professor Kavanagh said eMHPract was designed to engage health professionals in e-mental health.
"It is about linking with GPs, allied health professionals and health workers in rural and remote regions of Australia to increase their awareness and knowledge of available e-mental health services," he said.
"It is also about building strong referral pathways between e-mental health and other services.
"Through this program, our aim is to increase the number of users of e-mental health services by at least 20 per cent by the middle of 2016."
Professor Kavanagh said eMHPrac would not replace existing psychological services, but expand access to mental health support through the use of web programs and phone apps that could tailor information and strategies to a person's individual needs.
"E-health programs can also provide reminders for self-monitoring, and chat rooms can give peer support to people when face-to-face support is otherwise difficult or impossible," he said.
"If we fully embrace e-health's opportunities, we can offer the community a level of service and everyday support that has never before been possible."
Professor Kavanagh said Australia had seen an explosion of e-health programs and services in the past decade, and QUT was a leader in the development and roll-out of innovative e-health programs.
Professor Kavanagh has more than 40 years experience as a clinical psychologist and researcher and heads QUT's award-winning ePsych research group, which has developed nine web programs and two tablet or phone apps for e-mental health, with four others in production.
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