Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

The Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN) is proud to announce the launch of its Virtual Psychologist Pilot, specifically designed to provide crucial postnatal mental health support to mothers in the rural areas of Narrabri, Gunnedah, and Moree.

The innovative initiative aims to address Post Natal Wellness including Post Natal Depression (PND) and other mental health challenges faced by mothers in these rural communities.

The Virtual Psychologist Pilot, funded by the PHN, is a milestone in improving mental health accessibility and outcomes for mothers in rural NSW.

The pilot’s focus on personalised mixed-based therapy sessions (text, audio and video calls) ensures that mothers receive tailored support empowering them with long-term strategies and coping mechanisms for their Post Natal journey.

The pilot addresses key areas such as attachment, breastfeeding, sleep patterns, role/relationship identity, and self-care, providing an integrated approach to mental wellness.

Key Pilot Features:

  • FREE: 10 counselling sessions fully funded by the Primary Health Network (the PHN)
  • Easy to access
  • Available to people in their own time and space
  • Delivered directly to people via personalised mixed-based therapy sessions (text, audio and video calls)

Commenting on the launch of the pilot, HNECC PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis said, “The PHN recognises the unique challenges faced by mothers in rural NSW and is committed to providing accessible and effective mental health support through innovative solutions like the Virtual Psychologist Pilot. We look forward to evaluating this pilot with the intention of expanding to other regions within our PHN footprint.”

The pilot been designed to offer flexible scheduling to accommodate participant availability and optimise treatment outcomes. Additionally, external referral sources for specialised services are integrated, ensuring a seamless continuum of care beyond the pilot phase.

Primary health care professionals play a vital role in referring and supporting participants, contributing to a collaborative care system. Post-pilot, participants receive follow-up consultations as needed, ensuring ongoing support and monitoring of progress.

The facts

Research from Virtual Psychologist shows if text-based counselling had not been available, 67% of people in in rural and remote areas would not have accessed mental health support.

As part of the pilot’s launch, the PHN is pleased to share some key statistics that highlight the impact and effectiveness of the Virtual Psychologist Service:

  • Culturally Inclusive Care: The service caters to a 25% Aboriginal population, ensuring culturally sensitive and inclusive care for all participants.
  • User Satisfaction: 100% of users expressed their willingness to use the same mental health professional again, underscoring the positive impact and effectiveness of the services.
  • Access to Support: 60% of users indicated that they would not have sought psychological support without the availability of digital/virtual support, emphasising the vital role of virtual mental health services in reaching underserved populations.
  • Effectiveness: 80% of users rated the service as “Highly Effective,” while the remaining 20% found it “Effective,” demonstrating the overall satisfaction and effectiveness of the service.

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