There is a growing concern that uncertainty relating to fluctuations in the covid-19 levels and the economic impact will add further stress on people to cope, NZ HealthIT (NZHIT) chief executive Scott Arrol says.
Even before the covid pandemic, the increasing issues related to mental health and addiction being experienced by so many people living in New Zealand was extremely worrying he says.
In the first Wellbeing Budget of 2018, a large sum of money was committed to target increased mental health and addiction services across multiple agencies.
Vote Health received a proportionally larger allocation for obvious reasons to support several initiatives including providing more and changed services targeted at the primary care level, Arrol says.
“This is Mental Health Awareness Week and many Kiwis must be close to tipping point. All of this uncertainty is a part of our lives over the foreseeable future which will impact on people’s health.
”Already stretched mental health and addiction services have to take up more of the heavy lifting to support an ever-increasing number of New Zealanders.
“eMental health solutions have come into their own in recent months and will continue to do so for a long time to come. Using digital technology in this way is a key enabler of a range of services to people based on their mental health and addiction needs.
“Like everyone in the health and disability system, e-mental health providers are passionate about doing their best so others can benefit when these services are needed the most.
“Little did they know when they first started their journey that their efforts and investment would prove to be so important when New Zealand experienced its first major pandemic in modern times.”
To support the growth of eMental health solution providers, NZHIT has established a special e-mental health industry group. The group aims to provide an avenue to engage with and contribute to the direction of eMental health activities, strategy and service developments.
Anna Elders, the group’s inaugural chairperson and clinical lead for Just a Thought says the current interest and engagement with eMental health is exciting.
Elders says New Zealand is in a good position to build an eMental health ecosystem that is innovative, inclusive and insightful in terms of providing accessible digital solutions that protect and enhance the wellbeing of our population.
“We have some big challenges in the e-mental health space, equity and equality of access in particular. If we work collaboratively however and partner with consumers, whānau and our communities to ensure purpose-fit tools and delivery systems, we can achieve a lot within our small country.”