Online treatments vital to meet mental health demand

Using online treatments will be essential if Australia is to meet the growing demand for mental health services, according to experts in the field.

Every year, 3.2 million Australians struggle with a mental health problem, but only 46% receive treatment.

"The demand for mental health services is huge and integrating online treatments into the health system is one way to help meet that demand," said Professor David Kavanagh, Chair of the Australian Psychological Society's Telephone and Internet-based Counselling and Psychology Interest Group, comprising leading researchers and practitioners in the field.

"Online treatments have the same components as many face-to-face psychological treatments," he said. "They support people in their efforts to address their own problems, and research suggests they can be as effective as traditional treatments for certain mental health problems."

Professor Kavanagh said the key features of such treatments are accessibility, low cost and the lack of stigma associated with using them and that therefore e-therapy has the potential to bridge the gap between needing help and receiving help, particularly for some groups in need. 

"Australia leads the world in the range of high-quality, evidence-based programs we can offer.  However, at the moment online treatments are developed and run using short-term funding," he said. "To harness their full potential, we need to include them as part of our standard health services, and ensure they can continue to be offered into the future."

Professor Kavanagh, who is speaking at an international online intervention conference in Sydney today, said experts in the field were keen to work with government to develop models of mental health care that included online treatment.

"Almost all Australians now have internet or mobile phone access, which expands the potential for the delivery of psychological services," he said.

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Professor David Kavanagh will be presenting at a panel discussion (Wednesday April 6, 8.50-10.15am) on online interventions at the 5th International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII) Conference at Q Station, Sydney.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Professor David Kavanagh, 0419 479 227, email: david.kavanagh@qut.edu.au

For more information about e-therapy and the APS Telephone and Internet-based Counselling and Psychology Interest Group visit: www.groups.psychology.org.au/tibcp


The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 19,500 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples' lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.