Mental Health Services - Discovery

May 17, 2022

The discovery journey for mental health services in Australia is something I've been thinking and talking about for years. I actually thought I'd written something about it here before.

I bumped into a mate today and it came up again so putting a quick download here.

The problem statement is something like: people looking for mental heath services find it difficult to find a service provider they gel with.

It feel like a matching problem. And on both sides of the market, we have very little data to match with.

My experience was:
• Told a friend my mental health wasn't good, they recommended going to the GP
• The GP got me to answer 10 questions and then I was given a mental health care plan
• I asked who I should see next and he pulled up Psychology Australia's website and put in my postcode asking if I wanted to see a male or female

I mean, there obviously has to be a better way to find a psychologist than what suburb you live in.

Some other thoughts about matching.

From the beginning, it feels like you have far less information about the patient than you do the professional. So spending too much time trying to build out the info about patient might not be the most efficient thing. Age, gender, physical health, etc. are there. History of trauma or past experiences might be difficult to collect but end up being highly valuable when trying to pair you with someone.

On the service provider side, my experience has been that there is lots of unique information about the practitioner that can be used to inform your selection that is hidden. An obvious one is what sort of approach/framework do they work with? Examples being IFS (internal family systems) or Schema Therapy, or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). The customer needs to be educated to make sense of that info, but even once you're in the system, it's still hard to find that information out.

Something that I've also felt when researching is that practitioners bio's are often just free text fields where they list...everything they've ever done. Everyone is an expert in men's and women's mental health and is LGBTQI+ friendly. Maybe they all are, but there has to be ways to surface the differences.

A key thing to measure here would be the length of time it takes new patients to find practitioner they stick with and find valuable. For me, it was over 2 years. I've heard of people doing free-of-charge phone calls to see if there is a fit. A nice idea.

Someone once suggested that we need a 'Broadsheet' for mental health services. Let me browse by location, but also by food type, price, quality, areas of specialisation, etc. Qual and quant info on all the practices and practitioners.

Something like this does kinda sorta exist, but both the data quality and ux could be improved as could the awareness of it.

Tech might not save us, but it might be able to help a lot of people here.