The Federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, visited campus on Friday as part of a celebration to mark MindSpot‘s 50,000th patient – a remarkable achievement for a service just 10 years old. The Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor accompanied the minister on a tour of the MindSpot facilities, before attending a short ceremony to mark the occasion, followed by a morning tea.
The Vice-Chancellor praised MindSpot’s “remarkable achievement to help people near and, more importantly, far” by providing the world’s first national online mental health service.
“It is a source of great pride for me that we have this program at the University,” Professor Dowton said. “Mental health is a huge problem. As a uni of service and engagement there is no finer example of our work in that regard than MindSpot.”
Professor Nick Titov, Director of MindSpot, provided a short history of MindSpot. The service provides online treatment for anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. It’s delivery over the internet makes it particularly important for Australia, where distance can often prevent those outside metropolitan areas from accessing the help they need.
So vital is the service that it’s planned introduction in 2006 was accelerated, with Titov and his team having to “fly the plane whilst building the plane” in meeting and responding to public demand. The service has been an outstanding success, running more than 60 clinical trials over the past decade, many of which were world-firsts. Of it’s users to date, 33 per cent have suicidal thoughts, three per cent have thoughts and a plan, and one per cent also have intention to commit suicide. “To date, we haven’t lost anyone,” said Titov, reflecting that this potentially means hundreds of lives saved by the service.
Minister Ley outlined the government’s commitment to mental health as a matter of national importance. “I came here to learn what MindSpot does, take it away, think about and incorporate it into the health system of Australia,” she said. “The service is incredibly high-quality, evidence-based; it follows up, it’s not ad hoc and your people are very, very good at what you do.”
In closing the event, Professor Titov reflected on the core purpose of MindSpot, and it’s future: “Our mission was to develop a service that we would want our family and friends to use,” he said. “Congratulations. We’ve made a pretty good start.”