CEO Update: Our three wishes for the future of telehealth

Our three wishes for the future of telehealth 

If the telehealth genie is out of the bottle, which I think is a great thing, then we must all work to ensure we make the most of our three wishes.

For many years, even decades, we in the health sector have talked about and debated the best ways and methods to develop and deliver ‘telehealth’. 

What it might look like, how it might work, the advantages, the problems, the prices, the potential outcomes, the clear benefits for rural and remote communities.

Today, five months into this pandemic, it appears we know more (anecdotally) about telehealth than we’ve learnt debating it for the last five years. 

Why? Because so many service providers just had to take the plunge and start the process and because obstacles were removed efficiently to create access and ignite the system.

As a catalyst for the increased delivery and demand of telehealth services, COVID-19 has changed the paradigm for many mental health services. And at Mental Health Australia we were recently asked by the Department of Health to provide advice based on feedback and experience of our members and service providers about the impact of the changes to telehealth. 

The overall consensus was that the change and focus was for the better, and that the extension and ongoing improvement of telehealth was widely supported. 

So that’s our wish number one. Let’s keep doing it and keep doing it better.

There was also consensus for the need to think about telehealth more broadly than just doing the same thing, a different way. We need to understand why people would choose to use it, was it working for both the provider and the recipient of services, how access to technology and connectivity issues affect people’s use of telehealth, and what feedback from those who receive and deliver services and results were being identified that could inform improvements? 

And that’s wish number 2. Let’s make sure we get the evidence to know what works, and also what we can improve.

When it came to positive feedback the anecdotal stories to date suggest methods of delivery and evaluation are evolving quickly.

We are hearing of how young people are preferring to just talk rather than video call, providing them with the opportunity for more privacy by going outside or away from others to talk, while older users, both providers and consumers, are becoming more confident with digital solutions, and more confident to continue to use services in this way.

When it comes to pricing there are concerns around who should be funded to deliver telehealth services, how to manage gaps in payments, the limited ability to extend consultations when and where necessary, and the need for potential differences in pricing for rural and remote, and low socioeconomic areas.

Telehealth needs to be located within a model of care, clear standards need to be applied around service delivery, and there needs to be a system of accountability to ensure those standards are met. 

And that’s our wish number 3. Let’s get the process, and pricing right. 

Advocacy is more than stating our wishes though, and we will continue to argue for these three principles going forward: keep telehealth going, use feedback and experience to create improvements and get the process and pricing right. 

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley



This Monday I’ll be taking part in digital workshops for representatives of the Mentally Health Workplace Alliance and the National Workplace Initiative Framework, while also taking part in a meeting discussing a project looking at ‘parents with a mental illness’.

On Tuesday we’ll be holding our seventh Mini Members Policy Forum webinar of the year with clinical psychologist Rob Gordon talking about bushfire recovery and trauma in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then later that day I’ll be taking part in a Vision 2030 Advisory Committee meeting.

I’ll be at Parliament House on Wednesday giving evidence to a Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee – Inquiry into lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20. And that morning, I am looking forward to speaking with the Mental Health Coordinating Council in NSW.

On Thursday we’ll be talking with experts at the Australian National University about research in the area of mental health lived experience, and I will be speaking at the Annual Workshop Webinar for the National Register about our strategic and future approach at Mental Health Australia.

On Friday I’ll be taking part in a Primary Care Reform Steering Committee meeting and we will have our regular meeting with the Department of Health.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources. 

We are pleased to invite you to the third of a four-part webinar series in August 2020. The webinar will provide an in-depth look into Service Module 3 of the Framework: Working Together to Promote Mental Health in Multicultural Communities. This module explores effective engagement with multicultural communities and stakeholders, in addition to mental health promotion and suicide prevention in a multicultural context.


  • When: Wednesday 5 August 2020
  • VIC, NSW, ACT, TAS & QLD2:00 pm
  • SA & NT1:30 pm
  • WA: 12:00 pm

Register here


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Member Profiles

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation and represents urban and rural general practitioners. They represent more than 35,000 members working in or towards a career in general practice. The RACGP’s mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of all people in Australia by supporting GPs, general practice registrars and medical students through its principal activities of education, training and research and by assessing doctors’ skills and knowledge, supplying ongoing professional development activities, developing resources and guidelines, helping GPs with issues that affect their practice, and developing standards that general practices use to ensure high quality healthcare.
Website - Facebook - Twitter

CatholicCare NT is a not-for-profit organisation, providing counselling services and programs to individuals, couples, families, children groups, schools and agencies across the Northern Territory. They provide counselling and other support services in Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs, Ltyentye Apurte, Finke, Titjikala,Tennant Creek, APY Lands, Nauiyu, Palmerston, Tiwi and Wadeye. CatholicCare NT is a social services agency of the Catholic Diocese of Darwin. And, is a member of Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA), a national body representing the Catholic social services sector. Funding for their services is provided by both the Australian and Northern Territory governments.
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Have your say: National Mental Health Commission National Workplace Initiative core framework

The National Mental Health Commission is seeking feedback to help shape the core framework within the National Workplace Initiative (NWI). In the 2019-20 Federal Budget, the Government announced an investment of $11.5 million over four years for the NWI. The NWI will provide a nationally consistent approach to mentally healthy workplaces.

In particular, the NWI will: 

  • Create an evidence-based framework for mentally healthy workplaces.

  • Help people find suitable initiatives and resources via a digital NWI platform.

  • Showcase successful approaches to mentally healthy workplaces. 

  • The NWI core framework will act as the centerpiece of the NWI - informing the scope, resources, tools and supports provided.

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