Measuring outcomes from ehealth services; how do they compare for headspace and eheadspace

Presentation First Author: 
Nic Telford

Young people have the highest rates of mental illness than any other age group in Australia with one-in-four experiencing a mental health problem within any 12-month period. However this high rate of mental illness is not matched by a corresponding level of service use. In response the Australian government funded headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation. Since opening in 2006 headspace has provided youth-friendly services to more than 80,000 young people at its 40 centres across Australia. By mid-2013 the number of headspace centres will have increased to 55 and the network will continue to expand to 90 by 2015. Although the introduction of headspace centres has gone a long way to increasing the accessibility and availability of youth mental health services in Australia there are still many young people who do not have reasonable access, or are experiencing other personal or structural barriers, to the services they need. In order to address these barriers and increase the access to mental health services for young people who are from rural and remote areas or for those who find it difficult, or who arent ready to access traditional face-to-face services the Australian Government has provided further funding for eheadspace. eheadspace aims to take the clinical expertise of youth mental health into new mediums (online and telephone), increase the availability and geographic accessibility of headspace services across Australia; improve mental health outcomes for young people who access the service, and assist young people with referrals to headspace centres and other faceto- face mental health services and supports. headspace has built the collection of client and service information into routine practice across all of its programs recognising the need to continually monitor and improve service quality and performance. An innovative and youth friendly web-based Minimum Data Set (MDS) has recently been implemented across the headspace centre network that collects a range of demographic, service access, and outcome data directly from young people. An equivalent MDS is collected on all eheadspace clients. This presentation will outline a quantitative analysis of the changes in psychological distress and improvements in life satisfaction and wellbeing for a matched sample of clients accessing each mode to determine whether ehealth services can achieve the same level of outcomes as face to face services. The matched sample will be drawn from data collected within the MDS applications between January and June 2013 and comprise data on more than 20,000 young people accessing headspace centres and more than 6000 accessing eheadspace. Given the potential of the internet to augment the more traditional face to face mental health care targeted at young people as well as offering numerous advantages over faceto- face including its reach and its capacity to engage geographically and socially isolated groups and its cost-effectiveness, there is considerable interest in the effectiveness of ehealth approaches for youth focussed mental health services in Australia and internationally. headspace and eheadspace data collection processes provide an unparalleled opportunity to compare the outcomes of these different types of service delivery.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
November, 2013
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