You know that feeling when you are standing in the cereal aisle and there are so many cereals that you simply don’t know what to buy?
It’s choice paralysis.
You are so overwhelmed by the choice, and don’t know how to make the decision, that you end up not eating cereal at all, and reverting back to your usual breakfast of gin and a bacon and egg mcmuffin.
Whilst in no way as delicious, a strangely similar problem exists when thinking about mental health websites.
The truth is, we are spoiled for choice in Australia when it comes to online mental health resources. This is the result of a lot of ground-breaking and world-leading research that has shown that online interventions can be as viable treatment options for common mental disorders (e.g. anxiety and depression) as more traditional clinic based services.
The large number of websites and apps however makes it difficult for someone who is looking for mental health support to find the most appropriate thing for them.
So today I was very happy to see the following appear in my email inbox:
You are receiving this email because you have contributed to the development of the Australian Government’s new digital mental health gateway, Head to Health. We thank you for providing us valuable feedback through the online research participation you undertook with us about mental health via the Sydney Research Network.
The Head to Health website is now publically available at headtohealth.gov.au.
If you would like more information about the Australian Government’s investment in mental health please read the Minister’s media release
Thank you again for your research participation*.
Head to Health is an Australian Government funded website, designed to help people with mental health conditions or concerns, connect to the most appropriate online resources. At launch they have 370 resources available in their databases.
The website was created based on a long co-design process in which the Department of Health worked with people with lived experience of mental health problems, mental health organisations, service providers, health professionals and the general public to identify the best way to help people find the resources most relevant to them.
The result is, I think, a pretty good portal website.
Essentially, the website provides multiple ways to get through to the information you need, catering for different user types:
- search functionality for those who know what they are looking for
- browse by type of resource (website, programs, forums, phone, chat email) for those who know how they want to communicate
- an AI chatbot for those who don’t know what they are looking for, and need to be guided through the process
- direct links for those that need help immediately
- a sub-portal for people who support or care for someone with a mental illness
- resources organised by non-mental health terms like physical health, connectedness, purposeful activity and feeling safe, stable and secure, for those not seeking information not based on diagnosis
I personally find the site both easy to navigate and pleasant to look at. I particularly like the choice of character design.
Compared with a previous mental health portal, I think this one is more focused and accessible.
I’d be interested in your thoughts though. Do you find the site attractive, easy to use, informative? Let me know in the comments below.
* whilst my participation in the development of the site was minimal, I will still happily take credit for it 🙂
Want to comment on this article, or ask me a question about the health and well-being services available to you as a student? Feel free to comment below, abuse me on Twitter (@Dr_Furber), contact me on Skype (search for ‘eMental Health Project Officer Gareth’), or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)