Mental health services for children and young people are in high demand and anyone trying to access them need likely prepare for a long wait. Whether it be because mental health issues are growing amongst children and young people, or whether it is getting easier for younger generations to overcome barriers to help seeking, is not clear. What is clear is that face-to-face support services are not the only answer.
In fact, research shows that children and young people are more likely to engage with mental health information and services via online technologies.1 As they are digital natives who feel comfortable navigating the online world, this is perhaps unsurprising. However, the provision of support online also helps to overcome a number of barriers to accessing face-to-face services for children and young people.
Anonymous access - a key factor in why children and young people like Kids Helpline (KHL) - is an advantage of digital health resources as they help to overcome the stigma of accessing mental health support and the fear of being judged. For those who live in rural and remote areas, online and teleweb health services provide a widely accessible and cost effective option for managing conditions. Indeed, digital resources help to overcome associated high costs of service access and provision for clients and government alike.
We know from our own experience in delivering KHL via webchat that children and young people are increasingly moving away from access via the phone in preference to KHL online support. Hence, we are delighted to see the commitments made by both the Coalition and the Opposition to increase funding to KHL, especially given that webchat is more expensive to provide as counselling takes longer online and that we are only able to respond to around half of all contacts that we receive with our current funding. With the other half going unanswered, it is greatly needed funding.
However, as all parties grapple with how to best provide mental health services to growing demand in Australia’s younger generations and thereby stem the escalation of mental health issues in later life, we would like to call for significantly greater investment in digital mental health services, including into research and evaluation of new technologies and technological solutions. We believe that the online world has the potential to effectively address and manage mental health conditions too and is a necessary part of the government’s response in a country as large and diverse as Australia.
If you agree, please pledge your support for making greater investment to online mental health support for children and young people a priority in the next government.
Chief Executive Officer
I didn't respond to this one --Miles w (talk) 13:16, 21 May 2019 (AEST)