From the worst bushfire season on record to the global health pandemic that is COVID-19, 2020 has delivered a lot so far. If you’re feeling worried, anxious or distressed, you’re certainly not alone.
Even before this year unfolded, Beyond Blue found that nearly 40% of Australia’s population has – or is at risk of developing – a mild or moderate mental health condition.
If you, or someone you know, is feeling stressed or overwhelmed right now, a program called NewAccess might help.
What is NewAccess?
Developed by Beyond Blue and delivered across parts of Australia in partnership with Primary Health Networks, NewAccess is a free coaching program that’s typically delivered either face to face, over the phone or by video call. The pandemic has naturally affected the face-to-face delivery in some regions, but fortunately video call and phone have been able to play a crucial role in continuing to meet community needs at this time.
NewAccess participants start with an initial one-hour assessment and then receive five tailored 30-minute weekly sessions with their coach. During these sessions, they’ll learn practical tools to help them cope with the life issues and situations that are causing stress, whether that’s work, relationships, or what’s happening in the world.
How, exactly, does NewAccess do this? The program uses an approach called low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy, or LiCBT, which is based on the concept that how you think, act and feel are all connected. Working with a coach, LiCBT teaches NewAccess participants to recognise problem areas in thinking and behaviour before finding more helpful ways to think and act.
How is it different to other support services?
For starters, NewAccess is completely free – and you don’t need to see your GP before you can sign up, either.
“It’s all about self-referral,” says Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman.
“You don’t need a referral from a healthcare professional, something we know is traditionally a major barrier for people in accessing mental health services, whether that’s because there’s a waiting list to see a GP or because they don’t feel like they need a mental health service, perhaps due to stigma.”
As well as being a completely confidential service, the program will provide you with a coach that works with you as just that, your coach. They will help you pinpoint the most important goal for you right now that leads to better mental health, and work alongside you using proven strategies, to help you achieve it.
“Our coaches reflect the diversity of the communities they’re working with,” says Harman. “They’re from all kinds of backgrounds – farming, retail, counselling – and include people who’ve worked in aged care and childcare. We’ve got people in their early 20s right through to their late 50s, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander coaches.”
And, by using well-recognised, credible ways to measure your progress at each session, you’ll see how NewAccess is helping in real time.
“That’s highly motivating for people taking part in the program,” says Harman.
How effective is it?
The NewAccess program continues to see strong results with seven out of 10 participants reporting a significant reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression.
“Cognitive behavioural therapy has been proven to be very effective for mild to moderate depression and anxiety,” says Harman. “And we know there’s no difference in recovery rates depending on how you access the service – phone and online are just as effective as face-to-face.”
Is it right for you?
NewAccess is a good starting point if you’d like some support for your mental health.
You might feel like your problems aren’t big enough to seek help or that you can cope on your own. Don’t downplay what’s playing on your mind – the coaches are here to listen and guide you.
“It may be that you’re worrying about money, work, or your relationship, or because you haven’t seen your kids for a while,” says Harman. “Or perhaps you’ve been drinking more than usual recently or are having trouble sleeping.”
Whatever concerns you may have, NewAccess could be just what you need right now.
Learn more about how the NewAccess program works, including finding answers to frequently asked questions, by visiting the NewAccess homepage. You can find out if there’s a NewAccess coaching program currently available in your area, submit an enquiry online, or make a simple phone call to start the ball rolling.