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Suicide and Internet Security in Online Treatment Programs

06 March 2015 - Dr Jan Orman

Attendees are expressing two big areas of concern in the eMHPrac webinars: suicide and internet security. On each of our webinars our experts have answered these questions as they apply to their own programs.

The developers of each of the eMH treatment programs included in the eMHPrac project have been careful to address the question of suicidality. It is a concern that underscores the need for appropriate assessment before recommending an online treatment program, and during its use.

Once the patient is using an online treatment  program,  assessment instruments in all programs look at illness severity and suicidality and raise red flags of one kind or another if there are concerns. Suggestions to consult a professional are made if warning signs appear and numbers for crisis lines and services are provided. Some programs (eg This Way Up and Mindspot) can communicate directly with the referring GP, providing an additional level of safety.

Internet security issues are addressed in various ways. Some programs do not require any identifiable information. Others may allow registration under assumed names but to be fully functional require an email address or telephone number or both. Some actually require either real names or an alias that the referring GP can recognise so that information about the patient’s progress can be communicated to the referrer

Aware of the sensitive nature of the content, program developers aim for a very high level of security. As referrers we need to be familiar with the security set up of each of the programs we recommend to satisfy ourselves and our patients that the possibility of information leakage is minimal. We are assured by the developers that it is.

Dr Jan Orman
Dr Jan Orman

Jan is Sydney GP, private psychological medicine practitioner in Sydney’s inner west and a GP educator for Black Dog Institute.

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