Most people in Australia visit a healthcare setting such as a general practice at least once per year. Healthcare settings therefore provide a unique opportunity to deliver preventive strategies for anxiety and depression to most Australians.

StepCare is an e-mental health screening service designed to detect risk behaviours and symptoms in primary care. This information is fed back to the user/patient and their doctor in real time, together with an algorithm-based treatment recommendation. The patient is monitored over the next 18 weeks, and if improvements have not been made, alerts are sent to the patient and their doctor, plus a recommendation to the doctor to step the patient up to the next level of treatment intensity.

Evaluations of the program indicate that it is well accepted by patients, doctors and general practice staff, that new mental health cases are identified for early intervention, and that users’ symptoms improve over time.

The Prevention Hub will extend this service to suit young people.

Principal researcher