Aug 18, 2020

TEN: the new app providing health workers with mental health support

An e-health hub offering mental health support and enhanced pathways into clinical care for frontline health workers as they grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak has been launched by the Black Dog Institute.

TEN (The Essential Network) is a multifaceted e-health hub, developed by health professionals for health professionals as part of the Australian government’s COVID-19 response. The network connects health workers to specialist, individualised mental health advice and triaged support to ensure access to the help they need when they need it the most.

TEN is available via a website and an app and has been developed from the Australian Government’s $1.4 million package to support the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare workers during the pandemic. It has been developed in partnership with: This Way Up, RANZCP, Hand-n-Hand Peer Support, SAS, APS, Cogniss, UNSW and the University of Melbourne.

“It is hard to imagine the strain for those working in the hospitals and clinics in COVID hotspots right now. We learnt from international experience in dealing with COVID and liaised with frontline healthcare workers when designing this program,” explains Black Dog Institute Chief Psychiatrist Sam Harvey.

“We know the most important thing for the mental health of our health care workers is to ensure they have the right support, timely information and adequate equipment and resources to do their job. However, even if we get all of this correct, sometimes healthcare workers will need additional psychological support. Our job is to ensure this workforce stays mentally healthy so they can continue to do their job.”

Offering free mental health resources and tools which can be accessed anonymously, triaged support and online programs as well as one-on-one consultations with expert clinicians, this is the first time that leaders in mental health, academia, mental health research, technology and clinical care have come together to provide such assistance to healthcare workers during a crisis like COVID.

Black Dog’s Chief Scientist, Prof Helen Christensen, said “Black Dog Institute, with its partners, is taking the best we know about new models of tailored digital health care and creating a new style of service – one developed by health professionals for health professionals.”

“Between us and our partners on this program, we hold world-leading expertise in mental health of first responders, healthcare workers and workplaces. We are also experts in PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, grief and bipolar disorder.”

International research surveying health care workers from areas most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic show that many workers develop mental health symptoms as a result of their difficult working conditions, fear regarding their own health and the difficult decisions they are having to make. Following the SARS pandemic, between 10 and 20% of health care workers reported significant traumatic stress symptoms one of two years after the pandemic finished.

Further information on the TEN app is available at www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/ten. The app is available to download in the Apple Store and Google Play.

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