Beyond Blue launches 24/7 pandemic support service

Friday, 07 August, 2020

Beyond Blue launches 24/7 pandemic support service

Australian mental health organisation Beyond Blue has partnered with Accenture and Medibank to develop a 24/7 Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service to meet the surge in demand for its services since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.

Backed by funding from the Australian Government, the service provides access to free and around-the-clock mental health information, phone and web chat-based counselling, and referrals to other organisations. The platform is being continuously updated over a six-month period and connects people to digital self-help information, tools and wellbeing advice based on their needs.

So far, more than 500,000 people have accessed the service.

Medibank CEO Craig Drummond said, “There is not a person in our country that hasn’t been impacted by the COVID-19 health emergency. Australians are by and large very resilient, and most people have coped relatively well during COVID-19, but for some, social isolation has certainly exacerbated pre-existing mental health conditions. This could not and cannot be ignored.

“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 [or] age.”

Behind the success of the initiative is Beyond Blue’s quick actions, including the strategic re-use of its business capabilities and leveraging its relationships with strategic partners in the mental health sector such as ReachOut and Mind Australia.

The agility displayed by Beyond Blue was enabled, in part, by the journey Beyond Blue has been undertaking in futureproofing its organisation even before the pandemic hit. In the 12 months prior to coronavirus, Beyond Blue had been working with Accenture on a transformation program to define the organisation’s future role in the larger Australian mental health ecosystem, and to refine its person-centred operating model based on the current and future needs of its community. Also, Medibank has been instrumental in the delivery of the telehealth services for Beyond Blue, improving accessibility for Australians to receive quality mental health support.

“Most Australians have heard of Beyond Blue and over 13 million people contact us every year. That comes with a huge responsibility,” Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said.

“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.”

Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is available to all Australians, delivering clear, evidence-based information, advice and support specifically tailored to the mental health and wellbeing challenges raised by the pandemic. Information covers 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 also provides links to related services to help alleviate the burden of distress (including emergency/crisis supports and government services).

As delivery partner, Accenture was responsible for service strategy, digital visual design, agile delivery services and initial performance reporting. Medibank, in addition to partnering with Beyond Blue, has been working with the organisation to improve awareness about anxiety and depression in the community and workplace.

Accenture AN/Z Chairman Bob Easton said, “When we commenced this project, the team’s focus was understandably delivering to the market as soon as possible. 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.

“Beyond Blue is a great exemplar of embracing digital healthcare solutions to modernise the delivery of critical services to vulnerable Australians, and this initiative is a fantastic example of agile re-use of digital capabilities. The project also demonstrates the appetite of a rising number of Australians who want access to virtual healthcare services as an option to replace or complement face-to-face services.”

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