MAJOR sporting codes eager to stop more tragic suicides like Paul Green’s are embracing a new virtual mental health program modelled on a groundbreaking tele-cardiac service used to detect heart problems in far-flung Queensland communities.
The Tele-Mental Health Service is being offered free to Queenslanders by the White Cloud Foundation, a charity set up more than a decade ago by Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital cardiac sciences director Adam Scott. The service, which provides phone or video mental health consultations and treatment by a team of more than 40 volunteer clinicians, is modelled on the internationally acclaimed tele-cardiac investigation program developed by Professor Scott and launched in 2016.
That program enables rural and remote cardiac patients to be assessed via video by cardiology experts from RBWH.
With Queenslanders facing lengthy waits and gap payments to see psychologists, as well as the tyranny of distance that comes with living in a decentralised state, Professor Scott identified the need for a similar service to tackle the health crisis.
“It’s not a crisis service like Lifeline – we’re targeted at what we call the “missing middle”, or people with low to moderate depression,” he said. “Everybody will suffer from depression at some time in their lives and we want to get to them early and give them the help they need before it becomes a major problem and they fall down that slippery slope.”
Allied professionals from psychologists and social workers to exercise physiologists, counsellors, mental health nurses and dietitians work pro bono to treat depression and anxiety from multiple fronts, with no GP referral or mental health plan needed.
Almost 200 Queenslanders have accessed the service since it was launched last year.
Sporting bodies including the Queensland Rugby Union, Surfing Australia, Basketball Queensland, Paddle Queensland, and Softball Queensland are now signing up for the service, referring athletes and officials who might be struggling.
White Cloud is also in talks with other sporting bodies including the Queensland Rugby League, while the Queensland Police Service is also referring community members to the program
Story by Greg Stolz
Sunday Mail, 28 August 2022 (page 23)