Teleheath startup Coviu is offering free mental health support for depression and anxiety

- July 26, 2019 2 MIN READ


Telehealth startup Coviu has Swinburne’s National eTherapy Centre has added text chat to its video functions to help people with mental health issues feel more comfortable when they consult with clinicians.
A recent spinout of CSIRO’s digital innovation arm, Data61, Coviu has partnered with Swinburne University’s National eTherapy Centre to offer real-time text chat sessions in a trial that’s been running for several months. 
Swinburne’s Mental Health Online service is free and provides access to treatment programs for common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Dr Liz Seabrook, Digital Mental Health Fellow at Swinburne, said the text-chat sessions were very popular among clients since they were introduced in March. 

“It’s now one of the most common modalities we use to support clients in completing their online mental health program,” he said.

“For many clients, a real-time text chat session is a practical first step into talking with a health practitioner, which for some can be quite confronting.”

Mental Health Online service director Associate Professor Neil Thomas said they think text chat is so popular because it removes the pressure of people talking or showing their face.

“Our courses are designed to give people the tools to self-manage their mental health, and using them together with a practitioner helps people get the maximum out of them,” he said

Coviu CEO and co-founder Dr Silvia Pfeiffer said she was pleased the new text-only chat was having such a big impact.

“Our goal is to make healthcare services easily accessible and usable to all citizens, and this partnership with Swinburne’s Mental Health Online service takes us another step closer,” she said.

“I’m thrilled to hear the text-only chat sessions are helping hundreds of people across Australia. As with the rest of Coviu’s offerings, our text-only conference rooms have been built with security and privacy top of mind. All data is end-to-end encrypted, and is deleted at the end of a patient’s session, unless they give permission otherwise.”