Mental health

June 2011

FocusMental health

Anxiety and depression

Online resources and management tools

Volume 40, No.6, June 2011 Pages 382-386

Julia Reynolds

Kathleen Griffiths

Helen Christensen


There are significant unmet needs for psychological interventions for anxiety and depression in the population. e-health resources complement existing services by providing high quality information, symptom prevention, management interventions and peer support.


This article discusses e-health anxiety and depression resources offered by Australian providers and the ways in which general practitioners can assist their patients in accessing the diverse range of available resources.


After appropriate diagnostic assessment, and as an adjunct to treatment according to best evidence based practice, GPs may consider referring patients to online information, support and assessment sites and/or prevention or treatment programs. People experiencing anxiety and depression are particularly likely to seek information online and may also value peer support online. There is now good evidence that symptom prevention and management programs can be effective in adults. Evaluation of programs for children and adolescents has also been encouraging. Current and future research will clarify the role of delivery factors such as therapist support that may influence effectiveness in clinical settings.

Case study

Three weeks after his 18th birthday, Jordan consults Dr Grant about his acne. Dr Grant practices in a small country town and has known Jordan for 10 years. Dr Grant provides advice about acne and notices that Jordan seems less talkative than usual. There is a strong family history of depression, so Dr Grant asks Jordan about his general health.

Jordan admits that he is feeling self conscious about his appearance and has been feeling unhappy at times. He has read on the internet that acne and depression are often linked and has been wondering if he might have some symptoms of depression. Dr Grant checks that Jordan is not at risk of self harm, completes a physical examination and arranges blood tests. They agree that Jordan will return in a week and in the meantime will visit the BITEBACK, reachout and youthbeyondblue websites to learn more about depression.

When Jordan returns the following week, Dr Grant is able to rule out medical illness and clinical depression, but suggests that Jordan might benefit from learning some strategies to prevent depression. Jordan has read about cognitive behaviour therapy and would like to learn some coping strategies. He is not prepared to see the town’s only psychologist because she is his best friend’s mother, but he is interested in exploring online resources. Dr Grant knows that the local high school counsellor has used MoodGYM in her work with students and Jordan is happy to see her. Dr Grant arranges to see Jordan again in 2 weeks and invites him to make an earlier appointment if he wishes.

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