An Australian-first free coaching program with an incredible success rate of almost 70 per cent in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety - piloted by Beyond Blue - could be available to many Australians around the country.
Beyond Blue has committed to working with Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to revolutionise delivery of early intervention mental healthcare to as many people as possible across Australia.
The NewAccess program has been running in three trial sites - ACT, North-Coast New South Wales and Adelaide since October 2013, with more than 3,500 people aged over 18 taking part. Up to six free sessions are available in the program (which was originally funded with donations from the Movember Foundation), for people experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression or anxiety.
Beyond Blue Chairman The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC said an independent evaluation by Ernst and Young had proven NewAccess to be an accessible and effective way of treating people who are struggling with personal issues and need help getting back on track.
"NewAccess was modelled on the successful UK program Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, yet the evaluation shows NewAccess has achieved a much better recovery rate, with almost 70 per cent of people treated successfully,¨ Mr Kennett said.
"Mental healthcare in Australia is undergoing a revolution, and NewAccess fills a gap in services currently available to the public. The Federal Government recommended under its National Mental Health Reform plan that every Primary Health Network should have a low-intensity program such as NewAccess sitting alongside established services in its region.
"The figures from the evaluation speak for themselves, indicating this program is as effective as more intensive approaches, but more cost-effective, and it is able to be rolled out on a large scale to service entire communities in Primary Health Networks across the country.
“Beyond Blue is reaching out to PHNs to present the impressive results of this program and work to investigate opportunities for the program to be implemented and expanded. Based on the excellent results of NewAccess, we hope that PHNs introduce the program as widely as possible across Australia,” he said.
The independent evaluation found:
- 67.5 per cent of people who used NewAccess were below the clinical threshold for anxiety and depression when they finished treatment, i.e. they had recovered.
- More than 70 per cent of participants in the program completed their treatment.
- Participating in the program reduced stigma as it is easy to register and take part. NewAccess is free, there is no need for a medical referral, and it attracts people who are reticent about seeking help through existing services.
- Men, who are traditionally harder to reach for mental health programs, participated in NewAccess in extremely high numbers, accounting for 39% of all referrals(48% in the rural pilot site).
Each year, about 3.4 million Australians experience depression or anxiety and more than 50 per cent don't seek support.