The post-COVID world has seen a huge rise in people seeking support for mental health problems - a new digital resource offers a helping hand.
According to a study published in scientific journal The Lancet, the pandemic has seen a 25 per cent increase in cases of depression and anxiety. Researchers are still looking into its impact on alcohol and other substance abuse.
Experts fear this rise could overwhelm the health system's capacity to provide timely support and treatment.
The Hunter Medical Research Institute, University of Newcastle and Sydney University have joined forces to launch eCLiPSE - a comprehensive digital resource designed to provide around the clock support in order to address the growing problem.
The web resource connects people struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and drug and alcohol abuse with high-quality, evidence-based, clinical treatment options. It also offers help to families and friends.
Accessible via the web or app stores, eCLiPSE offers a range of courses to help people learn how to both help themselves and work with health professionals from mental health and drug and alcohol services.
It also provides access to a moderated social network, allowing people to share their experiences with health professionals and peers.
The institute's chief executive and resource's co-developer Frances Kay-Lambkin said it holds potential to change the way people access help and support.
"Our research shows that the programs in eCliPSE help just as much and in a similar way to traditional therapy," Professor Kay-Lambkin said.
But Professor Kay-Lambkin stressed the service was not designed to act independently of more traditional forms of service delivery.
"We still need to connect with humans - and specialists - to help us along our mental health journey.
"We are collaborating with our fantastic clinicians in mental health and alcohol/other drug services across the public and private sector to help people access eCliPSE when it's most beneficial... and support access to a live therapist when that is needed."
The portal was developed in partnership with the NSW Ministry of Health, the National Health and Medical Research Council, Ramsey Health Foundation, and Beyond Blue.
Developers have engaged with various service providers in the mental health, alcohol and drug use sectors to make the support it offers as comprehensive as possible.
To visit the site click here.
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