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Framework will guide use of myriad eMental health tools

Tuesday, 8 September 2020  
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Return to home page editor Rebecca McBeth


The Ministry of Health has created an eMental health framework to help people choose between the myriad of eMental health tools available in New Zealand.

Deputy director general, mental health and addiction Robyn Shearer described the framework as a “check-list of safety features that you would expect to see in applications”, during a recent eHealthNews Live Webinar on eMental Health and the pandemic.

“We’re just testing the framework on a couple of applications and want to make that available,” Shearer told viewers.

Shearer first announced that the Ministry was developing a framework in November last year.

“Internationally, there's a lot of innovation going on around digital support and health and disability care and mental health as well,” she said at the webinar. 

“One of the issues we're grappling with is there are literally millions of applications: millions of choices for where you go to get help. We have to have some guidance and support for people to be making the right decisions, and this includes what we support at the Ministry of Health.”

In response to Covid-19, the MoH has funded a number of eMental health tools to help people deal with the stress, anxiety and other issues related to the pandemic.

Digital tools Mentemia, Melon and Staying on Track have all been funded until the end of this month, as well as the Getting through together campaign, Youthline and the Aroha chatbot. These online services are being used by thousands of people.

“It is really important that we support people with their own journey and digital programs are a really accessible way to do that,” Shearer said.

“We are expecting that we are going to have to continue our digital supports. We've had really good feedback from people and the access and uptake of those digital supports has been great.” 

Shearer said Covid brings a lot of uncertainty and that impacts on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“What Covid has enabled us to do is to step a little faster into our digital support and resources for people, because we know from evidence from other international events, such as 911 or the Christchurch earthquakes, that the impact on mental health and well-being are not always immediate, they are down a little further down the track.

“We have to think about what we do now in order to shorten that tail of Covid and lessen the impact of negative mental health and wellbeing for people.” 

Shearer said having really good data is important in order to understand what people's needs are and be able to respond to those needs.

“Stepping into this space remains important and we will be building on digital as part of our offerings of support for people.”


A Ministry of Health spokesperson told that decisions around the apps and digital support that were funded as part of the Covid-19 funding package are being made the week of September 14 and the MoH will be able to provide an update by September 18.


"Work around the wider application of digital mental health and addiction services for the longer term is currently in the planning phase," the spokesperson said.

Watch Shearer’s presentation at the eMental Health webinar here.

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


This story was updated on September 16 2020.


Read more news:

Pandemic prompts thousands to use eMental health tools
Ministry visualises mental health and addiction data

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