e-Mental health - A guide for GPs

Talking to patients about e-mental health

Last revised: 03 Sep 2018

Discussing e-mental health

There are a number of ways you can promote e-mental health to your patients

e-Mental health is not for everyone. Some people will prefer an alternative treatment pathway; however, many patients might be unaware there is a range of effective e-mental health interventions available to them.46

You can promote e-mental health to your patients by:17,47

  • asking practice staff to display e-mental health information for patients in waiting areas
  • including links to information portals such as Head to Health on your clinic’s website
  • training other practice staff in the use of e-mental health resources
  • providing written information to patients; for example, Black Dog Institute fact sheets for consumers, ‘e-Mental Health and Depression’ and ‘e-Mental Health and Anxiety’
  • logging in to a particular e-mental health intervention during your consultation in order to give a tour and demonstrate some of the program’s features.

It is good practice for GPs to consider the following points when recommending an e-mental health intervention to patients:29

  • Provide information about the benefits and limitations of e-mental health interventions and their alternatives to help patients make informed choices about whether this option is right for them.
  • Alert the patient to possible costs (eg service fees associated with human-supported interventions and internet data charges).
  • Advise the patient to carefully read the terms and conditions of service before agreeing to proceed with the use of the intervention.
  • Explain the extent to which you will be involved in the delivery of treatment and the support you will provide during use of the intervention.
  • Establish clear timeframes for follow-up and schedule an appointment for review (eg two weeks after the initial consultation).
  • Inform patients of what they should do if they want an alternative treatment, if their symptoms appear to be worsening, or if they are experiencing a crisis and require immediate assistance.
  • For programs in which you have signed up as the patient’s referring clinician, you may be sent alerts when the patient completes an in-program assessment or appears to have discontinued treatment. This feature is only available in certain interventions and will be explained to you and your patient upon sign-up. You should notify your patients about how you will handle any information you receive as part of this process (eg include it in their file) and how you will respond (eg call them to arrange a follow-up appointment).
Given the patient’s care may not be overseen by another health professional while they are using an e-mental health intervention, you will need to play an active role in encouraging patients to begin and stay in treatment.

Table 3. Patient beliefs that increase e-mental health engagement and related suggestions for GPs

Table 3

Patient beliefs that increase e-mental health engagement and related suggestions for GPs

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