News: Young people using new apps to support mental health

07 July, 2016


Maroondah Leader, Emma-Jayne Schenk 

A series of apps helping young people access mental health services out of hours is tipped to lower emergency department psychiatric admissions in the outer east.

Ringwood’s EACH Social and Community Health plans to use EHealth apps to provide 3000 young patients 24/7 support. The centre is trialling the technology alongside counselling after finding its clients needed support around the clock.

Youth services manager Richard Lough said the trial had given added support to patients and could even lower emergency department psychiatric admissions.

“People think that if you’re in psychological distress after hours, basically deal with it yourself or go to hospital,” Mr Lough said. “The aim of the program is to help break the cycle ... and give people real options for after-hours psychological distress to stop things getting worse.”

Twenty patients with mental health issues are trialling 13 different apps for six months. Mr Lough says the digital intervention was a temporary solution before they attended a priority appointment the next day. The apps help with mindfulness, managing difficult tasks, planning ahead, as well as programs and exercises to work through.

“These apps are not magic pills but they’re another resource they may be able to use to develop good habits,” Mr Lough said. “I think the (digital industry) has grown so quickly and we don’t know the right way of doing it so we’re trying to add to that body of evidence.” The trial is one of 17 projects funded by Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network.