Awareness seen as key to mental health tool’s success

Public awareness will be key to the success of a new online mental health tool, a health sector leader says.

IT firm Healthpoint has built a website which collates information and contact details for mental health and addiction services. All Southern DHB-funded mental health and addictions services are now live on the directory.

"We want to get all the non-SDHB-funded providers on as well, as there are lots of providers who are not SDHB funded, and I think that would complete the picture," Alliance South  mental health and addictions network chairman John MacDonald said.

Clear and up-to-date information would be crucial to the success of the site, he said.

"We realised there wasn’t an accurate data base of providers and we were talking to Healthpoint before they got involved in a national set-up," he said.

"The timing of the two initiatives was perfect for us."

Nationally, more than 90% of around 600 mental health and addiction services are live on the directory and 75% have ensured their information is current and complete.

Having built the service, people now had to be able to use it, Mr MacDonald said.

"Usability is a big issue for me as this database is being used by multiple people, from specialist advisers on health phone lines, to people going online themselves."

They also needed to be aware the resource was there, and plans were afoot for a PR campaign to highlight the existence of the service, Mr MacDonald said.

"All the providers will be contacted three times a year to update their information ... I think if we can make it used widely, people will want to be on it because they know they have to be on it."

With the recently announced review of the mental health system ongoing, the site would be a good building block, Mr MacDonald said.

"We are all waiting to see what will come out of the review, but it is clear that access to information and technology will be a critical part of that."

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