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New Zealand gets eMental Health Framework

Wednesday, 13 November 2019  
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Picture: Mental health and addiction deputy director-general Robyn Shearer speaking at the International eMental Health Experts Forum. Source: Changing Minds editor Rebecca McBeth


The Ministry of Health is developing an eMental Health Framework to guide the use of eMental health services in New Zealand.


Mental health and addiction deputy director-general Robyn Shearer made the announcement at the International eMental Health Experts Forum in Auckland on 13 November.


Shearer told attendees that New Zealand’s mental health and addiction sector is in a period of change and “digital services are at the heart of that change and will play an increasingly important role”.


“The data shows the system is under pressure and unsustainable in its current form, hence the need for major change.


“eMental health tools and services are critical to the journey we are on,” she said.


The importance of embracing digital technologies is highlighted in the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction report, He Ara Oranga.


Shearer said eMental health services can help with issues around workforce shortages and the challenge of providing services to remote and isolated communities, she said.


“Face-to-face interventions should work hand in hand with telehealth and digital support,” she told attendees.


New Zealand currently has no overarching policy framework to guide the use of eMental health tools such as e-coaching, e-screening and e-therapy.


The Ministry has been working with Anil Thapliyal, president of the eMental Health International Collaborative and chief executive of HealthTRx and Te Pou o te whakaaro nui, to develop one, which should be ready for use in early 2020.


“Digital mental health programmes … are revolutionising our country’s mental health services, but we need to ensure they’re safe and fit-for-purpose,” Shearer says in a Ministry statement.


“The Ministry’s developing an e-Mental Health Framework to guide the use and development of e-mental health to better support providers who deliver telehealth and web-based programmes, practitioners and the public.


“The framework is expected to be ready for use early next year and will give added confidence for people accessing tools and services online in New Zealand.”


If you would like to provide feedback on this news story please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.


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