Australia is a fascinating continent. While it may be the world’s sixth-largest country by total area, twenty-six million people are geographically dispersed over cities and rural townlands with large swaths of land devoid of human life. Provision of health care service across such broad geography has required innovation that many countries could learn from and adapt to bridge the urban-rural divide.
A new paper in Lancet Digital Health by Nickolai Titov and colleagues from MindSpot Clinic, in Sydney, Australia, outlines user characteristics of Mindspot- a digital mental health suite of tools, available since 2013 to support mental health. Mindspot has many capabilities that include screening for depression and anxiety and treatment options, including therapist-led online courses.
The study profiles 121,652 patients who used the services between 2013 and 2019. Screening assessments, a popular feature of Mindspot, showed a completion rate of 78.9%. The majority of users were female ( 72.9%). The average user of Mindspot was 35.7 years of age. The unique value of Mindspot was that most users had never spoken to a mental health professional about their symptoms, so this service was tapping into an unmet need. Anxiety was reported by 81.7% of users, and depression was self-reported in 72.6%, either alone or as a comorbid occurrence.
Regarding the therapist-led online programs, 21, 745 patients availed of this option, and 66.7% completed the programs. Additional metrics pointed to high patient satisfaction and a trend toward lower disability as measured by “days out of role.” While the numbers leveraging the online programs saw a decrease over time, adding this digital layer of offerings to existing national mental health programs is beneficial. Patients reflected that the convenience of online offerings, privacy, and cost were also compelling aspects of using these services.
Overall, offering a suite of tools, including screening assessments, provide a digital door for users who may not otherwise raise these issues with their doctors is a compelling way to reach people and build awareness of anxiety and depression symptoms. Additionally, offering an online treatment approach for those who want to take the next steps.
Thanks for reading – Trina
(Opinions are my own)