New research has found a significant increase in the number of New Zealanders turning to digital health services for
support during covid.
The uptake of digital mental health services substantially increased last year during covid according to new research
, New Zealand Health IT (NZHIT) chief executive Ryl Jensen says.Ryl Jensen
The study looked at the uptake of two online cognitive behavioural therapy services, This Way UP in Australia and Just a
Thought in New Zealand.
Research findings relating to the New Zealand tool Just a Thought showed most users undertook self-guided courses for
anxiety and depressive symptoms.
The results highlight the utility and scalability of digital mental health services, particularly during times of
heightened distress in our population.
“With a level four lockdown back again, New Zealanders can expect the use of digital mental health services to continue
to grow as people seek support to get through this period of instability,” says Jensen.
supports digital mental health services which provide accessible psychological supports and interventions that can
supplement existing mental health services.
Just a Thought wanted to explore how New Zealanders used their service through covid and reports they have reached over
30,000 registrations since their launch less than two years ago.
The major findings from the New Zealand data below overwhelmingly show investment in digital wellbeing services during
covid paid off:
• 630 percent increase in website views
• 185 percent increase in course registrations
• 144 percent increase in healthcare worker registering
• 65 percent increase in healthcare worker prescribed courses
Chair of NZHIT’s e-mental health industry group, and clinical lead for Just a Thought, Anna Elders, says New Zealand is
only beginning to realise the potential digital health services provide in greatly increasing access to mental health
“We recognise the remarkable mahi of our frontline healthcare workers, who are pioneering the use of digital tools along
with face-to-face or virtual care. We hope digital tools will continue to grow and be recognised as a key service for
early intervention and support in mental health and addiction services."
Concerns about the mental health impact of the global health crisis has been widespread. The study examined the use of
the service before and during the early pandemic period.
The number of users accessing digital mental health services increased after covid arrived yet the demographic and
clinical characteristics of course participants remain stable.
The findings underscore how nimble and scalable these services can be during periods of high demand.
The Just a Thought
digital mental health service provides free access to evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy courses and
psychological support for New Zealanders.