Importance of eMental health solutions amid Covid

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Digital mental health solutions are more important than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic, says NZ Health IT chief executive Scott Arrol.

He says even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the increasing issues related to mental health and addiction experienced by so many people living in New Zealand was cause for major concern.

This was recognised by the government in the first wellbeing budget of 2018.

He says an exceptionally large sum of money was committed to targeting increased services to be provided across multiple agencies.

“This included health, justice, police and social welfare who were tasked with pulling together their planning and resources to create a wider, cross-government approach recognising that issues related to mental health and addiction are not limited to only one agency in particular.

“The pandemic has elevated this situation even further and there is a growing concern the current change to Covid levels will add further stresses onto those already struggling to cope.”

He says uncertainty is further accentuated by a likelihood of Covid levels becoming part of our lives over the foreseeable future.

“An already stretched mental health and addiction service sector will provide as much support as possible to an ever-increasing number of New Zealanders.

“This is where eMental health is a key enabler of a range of services to people based on their mental health and addiction needs.”

Robyn Shearer, deputy director-general of Mental Health and Addiction, will be a key speaker at the free live webinar on eMental Health and the pandemic on September 2.

To support the growth of eMental health solution providers, NZHIT has established a special eMental Health Industry Group.

The group aims to provide an avenue to engage with and contribute to the direction of eMental health activities, strategy and service developments.

Scott says members of this group are unified in their view that the provision of high-quality mental health and addiction services in this country is an extremely high-level priority that impacts all of society.

“As such, they have joined this group to provide a collegial and collaborative approach to ensure that eMental health solutions are fit for purpose and effectively enable mental health services provided by hard-working health workers every day.”

The efforts of the National Telehealth Service and the likes of its 1737 Need to Talk service must not be forgotten as they have been shouldering a heavy load during the pandemic, Scott says.

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