9 February 2023

New platform to navigate our mental health maze

Apps Virtual/Remote Care

When someone is seeking mental health care, the last thing they need is to be confronted by an increasingly complex environment of platforms and services.

But that is exactly what they currently face in Australia’s fragmented system, according to a statement by the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre.

A new research project announced this month hopes to solve this problem by building a user-friendly tool to help users navigate the mental health system.

The project is a collaboration between the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre and the University of Canberra, Swinburne University of Technology, Capital Health Network, Psicost Research Association and Bupa Foundation.

The aim of the project is to design and test a care platform that can be used by patients, carers, providers, decision makers and planners to navigate the mental health system.

The platform, called the Local Mental Health Care Operational Navigation Chart (MChart), will be implemented in the ACT first before being rolled out nationally.

Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla, co-deputy director of the Health Research Institute at the University of Canberra, said not mapping mental health services appropriately had created a barrier to those seeking support, thereby impacting health outcomes.

“For the past five years our team has been working extensively to map the mental health provision in our country. We have already completed the description of service provision in one third of the Australian Primary Health Networks covering 50% of the population, and our method has been tested in over 35 countries around the world,” Professor Salvador-Carulla said.

“Our next goal is to use this knowledge to produce the best navigation tool of the mental healthcare system in Australia,” he said.

With almost half of all Australian adults facing mental ill-health during their lifetimes, the demand for healthcare services is significant. Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre CEO Annette Schmiede said that the impact of covid on mental health was still rampant, and the need for a radical transformation of mental health care delivery was becoming increasingly urgent.

“The development of a more professional and capable community mental health sector is one of the central challenges facing mental health reform in Australia now,” Ms Schmiede said.

“The navigation platform MChart has a unique potential impact in this environment, to improve efficiency of the care system, reduce waste of care, and increase wellbeing of the population at need,” she said.