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Digital mental health recovery from COVID-19

University of Newcastle

Date Funded:
  • 1 February, 2021
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Milena Heinsch

Project summary

Develop and scale up a digital tool to help NSW bend the predicted curve in depression, anxiety, and alcohol use due to COVID-19.

What is the issue for NSW?

The ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 will see increases in depression, anxiety, and alcohol use as we emerge from lockdown and attempt to navigate the ‘new normal’. Before COVID-19, mental health services were over-subscribed and did not have the resources to respond to increasing need. New methods of delivering mental health support are needed that can reach out into the homes of people in NSW.

Digital treatments (automated, web- or app-delivered programs that required minimal or no real time therapist support) offer an important solution, being available 24/7, offered at relatively low cost, and are effective. Yet, despite investment by the Government in ‘telehealth’ services during and post-COVID-19, use of other eHealth tools remains low. NSW needs an urgent approach to integrating digital treatments into our mental health response as a ‘business as usual’ modality, available outside of the usual constraints of health service provision.

What does the research aim to do and how?

This research has two aims. First, it will develop a new, co-designed, digital treatment program for co-occurring depression, anxiety, and alcohol use that can be delivered 24/7 from any device. The second aim is to add this new treatment to a safe, private, and secure digital tool (eCliPSE) and test different ways of encouraging NSW residents to access the tool for their mental health and wellbeing.

More information

Refining future service delivery options for mental health article on NSW health and medical research website.