Workforce Development and E-Competency in Mental Health Services

Workforce Development and E-Competency in Mental Health Services

Simone N. Rodda (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand), Max W. Abbott (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand), Nicki A. Dowling (Deakin University, Australia) and Dan I. Lubman (Turning Point and Monash University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1874-7.ch014
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Abstract

Online chat and email are two of the most popular ways of providing e-mental health. Online chat is synchronous communication in a virtual chat room where client and counselor meet at the same time. In contrast, email is referred to as asynchronous because it can be accessed without the synchronous presence of client and counselor. There has been a rapid increase in the demand for chat and email over recent years and much of the demand has been met by services that have traditionally provided helplines or crisis support. This chapter provides an overview of the key issues associated with the delivery of e-mental health services and workforce development. This includes an examination of the range of options for providing e-mental health and key issues to consider when working online. The chapter concludes with a brief exploration of issues associated with client suitability for e-mental health via chat and email.
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Introduction

E-mental health (or e-therapy) involves the provision of mental health services via computer mediated communication. E-mental health via chat and email provides many benefits to clients, as well as to the mental health worker. For the client, they provide easy access to expertise without the need to travel or attend appointments. There are no technical barriers in that no special software is required to send or receive messages. These options are increasingly popular with clients because of the increased flexibility they provide. Services around the world are reporting increased numbers of clients accessing help by chat or email. Although online counseling has been available for more than 10 years for a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors, there is limited information to guide mental health services in the development and delivery of chat and email.

The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of the key issues associated with the delivery of e-mental health services and workforce development. This includes an examination of the range of options for providing e-mental health from single session work through to follow-up and after care, as well as identification of the potential pathways into online services. The chapter then describes key issues to consider when working online, including a discussion on how to develop good working relationships in the absence of verbal and non-verbal cues. The chapter concludes with a brief exploration of issues associated with client suitability for e-mental health via chat and email.

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