Clearhead Launches Free Telehealth Tool To Support Kiwis And Doctors Mental Health During Covid-19
Clearhead, an innovative local digital mental health company, has expanded its online platform, with the help of nib New Zealand (nib) and its charitable entity, nib foundation.
The platform has added a secure, online telehealth service to its suite of existing tools, which will enable therapists and support groups to continue to deliver crucial mental health services to more Kiwis across the country, even under COVID-19 restrictions.
As part of the expansion of services, Clearhead has also partnered with a group of mental health professionals to offer a series of weekly online facilitated peer support groups for doctors dealing with the psychological pressure of the pandemic.
Clearhead CEO, Dr Angela Lim says that while New Zealand has done well to contain the COVID-19 virus and mitigate the direct risk of it overwhelming our healthcare system, many fear that the long term impacts of the pandemic are yet to be felt and that our mental health will suffer as a result.
“With COVID-19 enforcing social distancing restrictions, mental health service providers were impacted by the challenges or costs associated with having to use multiple third-party digital tools.
“We’re pleased to be able to offer our HIPAA-compliant telehealth service, coupled with our therapist booking platform, free to these facilitators during COVID-19 - made possible thanks to the generous support of nib and nib foundation. We hope this will enable more people to seek proactive help from the comfort of their own homes, breaking down some of the barriers to accessing support,” she added.
With many mental health services and call centres already recording unprecedented demand (including Clearhead, who has recorded a spike of several thousand new users in the last month) the platform is expected to help facilitate more than 1,000 one-on-one therapy sessions over the coming months.
Meanwhile, the doctors peer support group initiative, thought to be the first of its kind in New Zealand, kicks off next week – with each support group facilitated by a trained clinical psychologist, doctor, or psychotherapist for sessions held over the course of six weeks.
Christchurch based psychiatrist, Dr Joanna Prendergast says “During these challenging times, it’s important we maintain the mental resilience of doctors who have been under increased pressure due to the pandemic. It’s a privilege to be able to lead this peer support group initiative focused on the medical community’s wellbeing.”
nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe says “With one in six Kiwi adults diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some point in their lives - a statistic likely to be exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic - it’s a real cause for concern. That’s why we’re so delighted to be supporting Clearhead and the work that they do in this space.
“We’re thrilled to be giving back in a meaningful way by assisting Clearhead to continue to provide for free these additional functions that will have immense purpose and benefit, far beyond the pandemic, in improving the health and wellbeing of our communities,” she added.
The Clearhead platform is your personal wellbeing assistant - helping you to understand symptoms, where to get help and providing personalised recommendations through its AI chatbot. It also offers therapists based on their real-time availability. All information is kept confidential and secure, nor is it sold or given to third parties (including partners).
The funding support to Clearhead is part of nib’s COVID-19 member and community support package announced in April to help Kiwis through this challenging period. More information about the package is available on nib.co.nz.
Doctors who are interested in participating in the facilitated peer support group sessions are encouraged to visit clearhead.org.nz/practitioners to sign up. In most cases, participation will be fully subsidised via their Continuing Medical Education (CME) funds via District Health Boards (DHBs) and selected Primary Health Organisations (PHOs).