30 November 2020
Australia’s first digital mental health standards have been released today by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
The National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health (NSQDMH) Standards were developed in collaboration with consumers, carers, families, clinicians, service providers and technical experts as a significant first step in providing safety and quality assurance for digital mental health service users and their support people, and best practice guidance for service providers and developers.
The primary aim of the NSQDMH Standards is to improve the quality of digital mental health service provision and to protect service users, and where relevant, their support people, from harm. The NSQDMH Standards provide a quality assurance mechanism that tests whether relevant systems are in place to ensure that expected standards of safety and quality are met.
The NSQDMH Standards provide a nationally consistent statement about the standard of care service users and their support people can expect from a digital mental health service.
What is a digital mental health service?
It is recognised that there are distinct specialist mental health, suicide prevention and alcohol and other drug sectors that provide services to often distinct cohorts. For the purpose of the NSQDMH Standards, mental health, suicide prevention and alcohol and other drug services delivered via a digital platform come under the term of digital mental health services. These can include provision of information, digital counselling services, treatment services (including assessment, triage and referral services) and peer-to-peer support services, that are delivered via telephone (including mobile phone), videoconferencing, web-based (including web-chat), SMS or mobile health app.
The NSQDMH Standards are not intended to apply to more generic wellness services, which are not offering specific health services to service users or their support people. Stand-alone electronic health or medical records, decision support tools for clinicians, analytic services, services that primarily provide support and education to health professionals, clinical practice management software, and clinical workflow and communication software are excluded under the definition of digital mental health services for the purposes of the NSQDMH Standards.
Source: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health Standards. Sydney: ACSQHC; 2020
The standards cover all potential users and will allow them to self-assess on a voluntary basis. Service providers need to consider their consumers needs and how they can be met by the various digital options.
An independent assessment is currently in development and should be available from late 2021.
Access the standards here.