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World-first programme to help fight depression

Press Release
August 19, 2009
For Immediate Release

World-first digital application used to help reduce impact of depression

In a world first, Lifeline Aotearoa has developed a web-cam support service to help young people with depression, in addition to existing online, phone and text-based support linked to the Ministry of Health funded interactive website www.thelowdown.co.nz.

“We wanted to talk to young people in a way they understand, and in today’s world that means online. thelowdown.co.nz text and email support services have already proved to be hugely popular so we hope young people will respond well to this innovative new service” says Dylan Norton, thelowdown.co.nz E-Team Leader, of the digital one-on-one service.

By using basic counselling techniques, providing resources and information and helping with strategies to deal with individual problems, the new web-cam support will help young people experiencing mild to moderate depression. More serious cases are directed to appropriate local support services.

“This online service will make it easy for young people to get help wherever they are. New Zealand has a large rural community and for young people in more remote areas this service will be a great benefit and easily accessible,” says Norton.

Another aspect of the webcam service is structured sessions that have been designed to coach people in problem solving skills. Research has shown that applying problem solving strategies can have a positive effect on people’s moods.

Each web-cam session is 30-40 minutes long and features training modules which use case studies to demonstrate principles and interactive role playing with the participant. After each session a synopsis of the module is sent to the participant via email.

Session one involves defining the problem, listing and then considering solutions. The second session focuses on selecting the best solution, planning steps to carry out the solution and ways to start and review progress.

“It’s all experienced in real-time and aimed at teaching young people the problem-solving tools to support their mental health,” explains Norton.

The web-cam support sessions can be either two-way, where the participant and thelowdown.co.nz team member can see each other, or one-way, where only the team member is visible. Sessions can be done with a standard internet connection, with dial-up. The web-cam can be turned off and text chat can be used if no microphone is available, to accommodate for all levels of internet connection.

thelowdown.co.nz webcam support facility uses an online learning software developed in America. It’s a dynamic, interactive environment, which is complementary to traditional face-to-face counselling. This technology has effectively been used in therapeutic environments and by the US military but has not been previously used to help people experiencing depression. The problem solving content for thelowdown.co.nz web-cam support was developed with Dr. Simon Hatcher, University of Auckland

It’s easy. Simply email thelowdown.co.nz team on webcam@thelowdown.co.nz to book into a session, currently available between 5pm – 9pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. They will then email you an invitation link prior to the session.

Thelowdown.co.nz webcam support - getting New Zealand’s youth to a better place.

ENDS

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