Digital Mental Health Programs – Where Do They Fit?

Digital Mental Health Programs – Where Do They Fit?

Digital mental health programs, like those offered at Mental Health Online have been found to be effective in treating a variety of mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety. These programs are usually considered useful for people with mild to moderate illness and can be a great first step in a treatment journey. In fact, for around a third of Mental Health Online users it is their first experience with mental health services.

As well as being a useful early treatment option, digital mental health programs can be used in a variety of ways to support client needs throughout their treatment journey.

While waiting for face-to-face services

Clients can often experience long wait times for face-to-face services. Digital mental health programs can be a great option for clients to get started with while waiting and could be suggested by the referring practitioner or the practitioner or service for which there is a wait.

Stepping up or down

Extra support after being discharged from a period of face-to-face work or more intensive services can be provided by digital mental health programs and a great way to continue to work on therapeutic goals. They can also be useful for relapses to help get back on track.

Augmenting other services

Digital programs can be a great augmentation to in-person services, especially for clients with complex needs. For example, a client may be working with a face-to-face service to manage a more severe mental health issue, but doing a digital program to work on their anxiety. About a third of Mental Health Online users are also accessing other mental health services.


In-person support can be blended with digital programs in a variety of ways from intermittent support to assist with understanding and tailoring of the digital program; to use of the digital program, program elements or tools as homework to compliment in-session content; to working with digital program material collaboratively in session. Tools like Mental Health Online’s Virtual Reality Mindfulness experiences which have been helpful for people who are new to mindfulness practice or have had difficulties with mindfulness in the past could be a valuable extra to recommend to or use with clients.

Therapist-Supported Programs

Many digital mental health services offer therapist support with their programs which can help clients engage more fully with the material. Mental Health Online offers 12 weeks of therapist support primarily via email with optional live sessions via video or instant chat. Clients are supported to work through the programs and are referred for additional support if required.

Mental Health Online provides free, evidence-based, self-guided and therapist-supported programs for:

  • Depression
  • Generalised Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Social Anxiety

For more information or to sign up for a Health Professional account to access program materials for recomming or using with clients visit

About the Author

Fiona_photoFiona Foley is the Digital Mental Health Program Manager at Swinburne University’s National eTherapy Centre and General Manager for the Department of Health funded, Swinburne run online mental health service Mental Health Online.

You can out more about their centre and online mental health services using the link below:

Mental Health Online

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