Just under half the children in Australia with a mental health issue aren’t receiving the appropriate treatment, and one third of their parents say the main impediment is a lack of access to treatment options.
“We’ve got all these great programs that we know work, but kids in rural Australia have just not been getting access to them,” says Dr Lauren McLellan, a clinical psychologist and Research Fellow at the Centre for Emotional Health.
The Centre has a 20-year history of successfully developing and implementing treatment programs for children with anxiety. At the end of their 10 week Cool Kids program, between 60 and 80 per cent of kids are diagnosis free, and remain so for the long term.
However, kids need to come to Sydney to do the course.
“I look at how vast this country is and how many children can’t access city-based services,” Lauren says.
“So we’re using technology and the internet to achieve a broader reach.”
Using the materials from the face-to-face program Lauren has developed Cool Kids Online, which uses videos, animations, and illustrations to deliver the course via an online platform. It’s backed up by weekly phone calls with the parents from a qualified psychologist.
In 2015 Lauren commenced a clinical trial with 100 rural kids to test the effectiveness of the online program.
“We don’t have any data yet – but I’ve been getting feedback from parents using words like ‘superb’ so that’s very encouraging,” Lauren says.
“Families are just really grateful to have access to a program like this.”
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