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InPsych 2016 | Vol 38

August | Issue 4

Psychology in current issues

Psych online…

Psych online showcases mental health and wellbeing apps and online sites to assist APS psychologists in maintaining up-to-date knowledge of online mental health and wellbeing services

Supporting parents of children with autism spectrum disorder and disability

  • The program: Children with Autism & Disability – a parent guide
  • Developer: Raising Children Network
  • Website

Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be demanding and overwhelming for many parents. The Raising Children Network has developed an app titled Children with Autism & Disability – a parent guide to help support parents both before and after a diagnosis. This app is highly accessible andprovides families with access to a range of resources and tools which relate to their child’s condition.

Features include:

  • A mapping tool to connect parents with local ASD or disability services
  • A step-by-step guidance tool to help parents navigate their way through the Australian services system
  • Information about early detection, assessment, and evidence-based interventions
  • Videos which document other parents’ experiences
  • Access to key articles that address the different aspects of ASD and disability, for example, dealing with sleep difficulties, social and emotional development, and managing anxiety.

Children with Autism & Disability – a parent guide can be downloaded free of charge from iTunes and Google Play.

Suicide prevention for Australian Defence Force personnel

  • The program: Operation Life
  • Developer: Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Website

Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, both serving and ex-serving, are exposed to a number of salient factors which increase their risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. In response to this increased vulnerability, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has developed a website and free companion app titled Operation Life. These online resources have been designed to help ADF members and their families understand the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and help them manage suicidal thoughts and behaviours with the support of a mental health clinician. Information for those who have been bereaved by suicide is also provided.

The Operation Life app provides a range of tools that users can access between therapy sessions to help them manage intrusive thoughts, keep calm, and stay safe in crisis situations. A function to create a personal support network is also included, together with contact information for relevant organisations and emergency support services.

It is recommended that mental health clinicians work collaboratively with their clients to set-up and personalise the Operation Life app, and ensure that clients have a good understanding of how the app works. A clinician’s guide is available for download from the Operation Life website to help clinicians understand how the app can be used to support treatment for those at risk of suicide.

Helping young people through relationship breakups

  • The program: Breakup Shakeup
  • Developer: Young and Well CRC, Queensland University of Technology, Kids Helpline and yourtown
  • Website

A relationship breakup can be a very difficult and upsetting experience for a young person. A new, innovative app called Breakup Shakeup aims to support young people through this challenging time by helping them to manage the distress associated with the relationship breakdown while also enhancing their social and emotional wellbeing.

Breakup Shakeup is an easy to use, highly engaging and free app which has been designed specifically for use with adolescents and young adults. It provides users with a range of simple, evidence-based strategies, such as activity scheduling, to help them cope effectively with a breakup and move forward with their lives. Specifically, this app provides a tool for young people to:

  • Rate their mood
  • Choose fun and uplifting activities to engage in (e.g., get creative, get active)
  • Nominate the people they would like to join them (e.g., friends, family)
  • Add the chosen activity to their calendar
  • Rate how the activity impacted their mood
  • Create a ‘favourites’ category where preferred activities can be saved

The app also provides links to professional counselling websites such as Kids Helpline and headspace where young people can go for further help or information.


Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on August 2016. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.