The scale of mental health challenges facing, not only the entire nation, but particularly the youth of Australia, has never been greater or more apparent than it is today. And, while awareness is on the rise and the stigma is steadily fading, the demand for help is not always matched with adequate access when needed.
TEDxSydney education partner, University of Sydney, is using smart technologies to create an innovative online ecosystem of care to support young people in managing their own mental health and wellbeing. Project Synergy aims to put individuals first by improving connections between young people and mental health services available, and may dramatically reduce waiting times for young people who need urgent support.
Traditionally when it comes to mental health, access to treatment hasn’t been such a simple path to navigate. Amongst the overwhelming variety of services and information sources, often when seeking help, any individual might be required to visit multiple specialists re-telling and re-living their stories without much clarity at the end of it all.
While the startling facts are right in front of us, the issue has never been more pressing. Eight Australians commit suicide every day and more than 3000 people take their own lives each year according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The number of annual suicide attempts is a staggering 65,300, making rapid suicide detection a health imperative.
In choosing to look at the issue of mental health from a different perspective, the University of Sydney has perhaps revealed an unexpected new path. Project Synergy draws on digital technologies to integrate existing apps and resources into one super-smart integrated platform, for people of all ages.
“This platform is a game changer because it has been co-created, co-designed and developed with the people who will use it,” says child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr Ospina-Pinillos, a researcher with the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre.
Young people can access the platform 24/7 with one login from any device – smartphone, laptop or tablet. Once they complete a secure online self-assessment about their symptoms and medical history, the platform instantly creates a comprehensive health profile that is shared with their mental health service.
While the platform is still undergoing trials, the long-term capabilities of Project Synergy look incredibly promising for the future of our youth and greater national health. Within 5 years the university claims every Australian teenager thinking of suicide will be able to access high-quality, personalised care, facilitated by technologies, within 10 years they will be supported internationally by smart IT systems, and by 20 years this will extend to global access – so that no matter where you live you will always have access to the support you need.
Lifeline Australia provides Australians experiencing a personal crisis access to online, phone and face-to-face crisis support and suicide prevention services. If you, or someone you know, need someone to talk to, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.