This symposium provided a snapshot of three novel strategies to support practice change in the area of co-occurring mental health and substance use problems, developed at the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use at UNSW.
- Increase AOD worker capacity by developing evidence-based, online guidelines with an interactive training program. In consultation with consumers, clinicians and researchers, Dr Chris Marel and her team has developed a ~400 page set of guidelines for the treatment of co-morbidity from identification, assessment through to development plan. Since their development, more than 4000 copies of the guidelines have been ordered by clinicians around Australia. To further increase the uptake of this valuable resource, Chris’s team has also developed an interactive website housing the guidelines and is currently developing an online, animated training program to be released this year.
- Increase access to treatment by providing a virtual portal to evidence-based treatments. It is well-established that online treatments have many advantages over face-to-face therapies (e.g. overcomes geographical barriers, less costly). However, we also know that it can be difficult to locate and access evidence-based interventions. Dr Sally Hunt presented the Eclipse Portal, a website that matches individuals to clinically-proven online therapy programs for co-occurring mental health and substance use symptoms and disorders.
- Widely disseminate evidence-based information and resources about crystal methamphetamine (ice) for the community through an online portal. Last year methamphetamines were rated the drug of most concern by Australians, despite only being used by 1.4% of the population. Dr Cath Chapman explained that this concern is as a result of changes in patterns of use (increase in use of “ice” as main form of methamphetamine), and the far-reaching impact that ice can on individuals and communities. She argued that in the wake of sometimes sensationalized and stigmatizing media it is important that Australians have access to evidence-based and non-judgmental information, with clear pathways to help. The team has developed the Cracks in the Ice website to meet this need, with an app to follow.
The take away
Once resources are developed they must be made accessible to end-users. Moving resources online is a practical, and innovative way to overcome barriers to accessing treatments and information.