Youth digital therapy services get $12m boost

Youth digital therapy services get $12m boost

30 June 2021

A world-first blend of digital therapy and face-to-face mental health care for young Victorians has been given a $12 million boost, with Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health Steve Dimopoulos announcing the additional funding today.

The funding will see Orygen Digital’s MOST – Moderated Online Social Therapy – scale up in Victoria and extended to young people aged 12 to 14.

MOST is currently available through 32 headspace and specialist youth mental health services. It gives 15 to 25-year-old Victorians on-demand access to tailored online therapy, tools and programs guided by clinicians, career consultants and trained peers with lived experience of mental ill-health.

The service’s state-wide rollout, launched in 2020 as part of the Victorian Government’s response to the mental health impacts of COVID-19, created the world’s first digitally-enhanced youth mental health system. 

Executive Director of Orygen, Professor Pat McGorry, and Director of Orygen Digital, Professor Mario Alvarez-Jimenez, joined Mr Dimopoulos for the announcement at Monash Health today.

Professor Alvarez-Jimenez thanked the Victorian Government for its ongoing support of MOST and Orygen’s digital mental health interventions.

“We know therapy doesn’t always connect with young people. But the technology, research and unique blended mental health care model behind MOST is changing the way we provide mental health services to young Victorians, so they get the help they need, when they need it and in a way that truly engages them with the therapy,” Professor Alvarez-Jimenez said.

“The role of digital solutions in transforming the way mental health care is delivered was highlighted in the final report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and I’m excited by the way our work improves the accessibility and level of care young people receive.”

The launch of a pilot MOST program targeting young people aged 12 to 14 who attend specialist youth mental health services such as those provided by Monash Health was also announced at the event.

Monash Health has been referring young people to MOST since November 2020 and will participate in the pilot with Alfred Health, Latrobe Regional Hospital and Albury-Wodonga Health, which also offer MOST to 15 to 25-year-olds.

“By offering MOST to 12 to 14-year-olds, we’re continuing the early intervention work Orygen is known for, and boosting the mental health support provided to young people at a crucial time in their care, through safe, accessible and appropriately targeted and supervised digital therapy that goes hand-in-hand with their specialist service clinician,” Professor Alvarez-Jimenez said.

The stand-alone MOST 12 to 14 platform has been adapted from the original platform and fully integrates with face-to-face care. It features a number of content, process and role changes to ensure it is accessible, safe, and appropriately targeted and supervised for this younger age group.

Designed by Orygen, Australia’s centre of excellence in youth mental health, and developed in partnership with young people and their families, MOST draws on more than 10 years of research, clinical expertise and innovation. MOST integrates digital mental health technology with clinical services to address gaps in existing care models, provide on-demand support and sustain real life recovery for young people.

In addition to the $12 million provided in the 2021-22 Victorian Budget, the implementation of MOST was supported by an initial $6 million investment from the Victorian Government in the 2021-21 budget, with a further $1 million provided by the Telstra Foundation to enhance the service.

All Victorian youth mental health services will be offered access to MOST by August 2021. Orygen is proud to be working in partnership with headspace National on delivering MOST in Victoria.