Two University of Sydney researchers from the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use have been asked to present novel eHealth initiatives at the annual Australian & New Zealand Addiction Conference.
eHealth is a growing field of research as technology develops and changes the health landscape all around the world. Digital technology and innovations have the potential to touch many aspects of healthcare research, and the work the Matilda Centre does in the prevention, treatment and reduction of substance use and mental disorders is no exception.
Now in its fifth year, the annual Australian & New Zealand Addiction Conference aims to broaden the understanding of the range of addictions, comorbidity, pain management, harm reduction, mental health and wellbeing and to look at solutions in regard to prevention, treatment and recovery through evidence-based research, programs and practical models.
Researcher officers Hannah Deen and Erin Madden from the Matilda Centre have been selected to present two of the centre’s eHealth initiatives: ʼCracks in the Ice’, a program that provides trusted, evidence-based information about ‘ice’ to clinicians and the public, and the National Comorbidity Guidelines, a set of online guidelines and health training programs to improve clinicians’ capacity to respond to challenging presentations.
Cracks in the Ice is an app and online toolkit that provides trusted, evidence-based information and resouces about crystal methamphetamine (“ice”) for the Australian community. The app is the first of its kind, and will be of interest to service providers, community members, researchers and policy makers.
Ice causes significant societal harm and is a cause of concern to the Australian community. Rural and remote communities are particularly affected, experiencing higher rates of use and related harms.
As part of a national response to ice, the Australian Government Department of Health funded the development of Cracks in the Ice, an online toolkit that provides trusted, evidence-based information and resources about ice for the Australian community.
Following the toolkit’s launch, researchers developed a companion “offline” mobile app to improve accessibility for rural and remote communities that may lack reliable internet access.
Mental health disorders are common among clients of alcohol or other drug (AOD) services; it is estimated that up to 76% of Australian clients accessing AOD treatment services meet diagnostic criteria for at least one comorbid mental disorder. The high prevalence of comorbidity means that clinicians are frequently faced with the need to manage complex psychiatric symptoms that may interfere with their ability to treat clients’ AOD use.
To improve clinicians’ capacity to respond to these challenging presentations, the Australian Government Department of Health funded the development of evidence-based Guidelines and accompanying online training program on the management of co-occurring AOD and mental health conditions.
The second edition of the “Guidelines on the management of co-occurring alcohol and other drug and mental health conditions in alcohol and other drug treatment settings” was developed in consultation and collaboration with clinicians, researchers, consumers, and carers nationwide. The translation of this resource into an accompanying online program was based on best-practice principles for e-learning.
The Guidelines and online training program aim to increase the knowledge and awareness of comorbid mental health conditions in AOD treatment settings, improve confidence and skills of clinicians, increase the uptake of evidence-based care, and ultimately, improve the outcomes for people with co-occurring mental health conditions.
The National Comorbidity Guidelines and online training program are available at comorbidityguidelines.org.au
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