General News Technology — 12 October 2012

The federal government will launch later this year a $16.4 million ‘virtual’ clinic which it hopes will increase patient access to phone and online support services for mental health.

Making the announcement during Mental Health Week, Mental Health Minister Mark Butler said with many Australians seeking advice and information on the internet, the new portal would help assure they received “the right help online”.

“We need to eradicate the stigma mental illness can carry, but we also need to recognise that many people still prefer the convenience and anonymity the web can offer when it comes to seeking help,” Mr Butler said.

“This portal will allow people to access information and treatment as an alternative to traditional face-to-face services, in their own time, in an environment in which they’re comfortable.”

GPs will be able to refer to the service, which Mr Butler said would “offer cognitive behavioural therapy from trained counsellors” and would target people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression.

People would also be able to self-refer to the service, which is set to begin offering services from December.

As first appeared in Medical Observer, 11 October 2012


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