Calls to Beyond Blue’s support services have increased by 66 per cent in April compared to the prior year and more than half a million people have now accessed Beyond Blue’s 24/7 dedicated coronavirus mental health service since March.

The new coronavirus support service relies on a collection of partners and government support which came together as the pandemic struck, but the foundations were laid more than a year ago when Beyond Blue began a transformation to modernise its service delivery.

The Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service provides free round the clock phone and web chat from trained counsellors and includes information about a range of issues such as coping with loneliness and self-isolation, managing mental health if you have the virus, ways to deal with job loss and financial worries, supporting friends and family, coping as a healthcare worker, and support for essential service workers and small businesses.

The service was initially established in just eight days under a partnership between Beyond Blue, Medibank and Accenture with ongoing support from mental health partners ReachOut and Mind Australia.

Building a support service

Continuously updated over the last six months, Accenture says the service benefits from the “future proofing” it has been conducting with Beyond Blue in the 12 months prior to coronavirus, allowing the organisation to respond quickly when the pandemic struck and partner with a diverse range of stakeholders to deliver services in a matter of days.

“When we commenced this project, the team’s focus was understandably delivering to the market as soon as possible,” says Bob Easton, Chairman Accenture AN/Z. “Working collaboratively with Beyond Blue and Medibank, we were able to stand up a service in just eight days by re-using existing capabilities and assets, including proven telehealth and phone-based services.

“Beyond Blue had a clear view regarding the needs of the people accessing its services, and were able to quickly repurpose their capabilities and mobilise a network of partners.”

Easton says the leading mental health organisation is a great example of embracing digital healthcare to modernise the delivery of services.

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman says it’s important the organisation evolves to continually support the community.

“Most Australians have heard of Beyond Blue and over 13 million people contact us every year. That comes with a huge responsibility. We must continually evolve, ask and listen to what the community wants and needs, and consider how to best to deliver it. That means innovation in services and supports; digital products and services complementing face to face, stronger collaborations, and connecting people to other great options from other organisations.”

Medibank has been assisting with the delivery of the telehealth services for Beyond Blue. With the pandemic and subsequent social isolation exasperating preexisting mental health conditions it was critical to stand up telehealth services quickly and effectively, according to Medibank CEO Craig Drummond.

“As a healthcare company and a business that prioritises the promotion of mental wellbeing, this project was incredibly important to us. In any normal time let alone a global pandemic, Australians need to be able to access quality mental health support and Beyond Blue offer just that – helping us achieve our optimal mental health, at whatever time, age, who we are or where we live.”

Beyond Blue’s trained counsellors are available 24 hours a day on 1800 512 348 or through web chat.

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