Updated online tool help to offer effective, accessible mental health support

Amanda Lyons

21/08/2018 2:15:36 PM

myCompass – Black Dog’s free online program designed to provide a way to fill gaps in mental health care – has received a major upgrade.

myCompass provides self-directed support and education for people experiencing issues of mental health.
myCompass provides self-directed support and education for people experiencing issues of mental health.

Mental health concerns are very common in Australia, with almost half the adult population likely to experience them at some time in their life.
GPs are often the first healthcare professional consulted by patients about mental health, and RACGP members have cited psychological issues as the most common problems they manage in consultations.
But, despite the common nature of mental health issues, many patients still experience barriers to accessing help.
‘Sadly, mental health care can sometimes be inaccessible, unaffordable, or stigmatised,’ Dr Peter Baldwin, Research Fellow and psychologist at the Black Dog Institute, said.
However, online technology can provide a way to bridge the gaps in care, especially for people who are unable to access other forms of assistance whether because of fear of stigma, busy family and work life, or geographical distance.
‘There is a lot of evidence that many patients with mild-to-moderate mental health conditions benefit from online therapy modalities. They give GPs another option in mental health treatment planning over and above prescribing and referring,’ Dr Jan Orman, GP and general practice services consultant at the Black Dog Institute, told newsGP earlier this year.
A specific example of such technology is Black Dog’s myCompass program, which can be accessed for free via mobile and computer. The program, which has been accessed by more than 30,000 Australians since its launch in 2010, has just relaunched after a major overhaul to improve user experience and outcomes.
The myCompass program steers users through self-directed learning sessions made up of 14 interactive activities in which they learn skills and activities from doctors and psychologists. It now also contains additional features, including video resources, a tools dashboard, and an activity tracker that can help users monitor their mental health over time.
Dr Orman believes Australian-made, evidence-based apps such as myCompass are a very helpful addition to the GP’s toolbox for mental health care, and can be recommended by practitioners for patients to use either on their own or in conjunction with other therapies.
‘I like to use myCompass as an introduction to cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT] for patients who’ve had no therapy before. It provides them with some familiarity with CBT techniques,’ she said.
‘But it’s also really useful for patients who are already in face-to-face therapy who can pick and choose which modules to use to top-up their therapy or revise what they’ve already learnt.
‘myCompass is a great immediate resource that can enrich mental health therapy, making it more efficient and accessible.’

Black Dog Institute eHealth mental health myCompass

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