HAVE YOUR SAY: Dr Bob Knight needs over-60s to complete a questionnaire on what mental health services they want and how they want them supplied.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Dr Bob Knight needs over-60s to complete a questionnaire on what mental health services they want and how they want them supplied.

What's your thinking on mental health services?

IF you're over 60, what mental health services might you use and how do you want them supplied?

That's what Dr Bob Knight, Professor of Psychology and Counselling at USQ Toowoomba, wants to know as he examines the accessibility of mental health services for older adults.

He hopes to get several hundred people from urban, regional and rural areas to answer a questionnaire designed to determine whether there is a difference in attitude in older people in these different environments to mental health, mental health services and their delivery.

He is questioning whether older people, particularly those over 70, will use the internet, Skype and other technology to access home-based help.

How much access do they have to the internet, and would they see this as a viable and dependable service?

"I think there is a tendency to believe that older people don't like using the internet and social media and people are even more sceptical about them using it for health and mental health services, but we don't have any data to show that is true, or if there is a difference in urban, regional and rural attitudes,” the professor said.

Beyond that is the issue of whether the older demographic will seek out mental health services at all.

Do they still perceive a stigma is attached to needing mental help, do they know services exist, give them credence, and do other adults - including family, friends and the medical fraternity - suggest such services to them, or simply assume they will not participate?

Questions will include what people know about psychological services, how they feel about them, how much they use the internet and other technology and how they feel about receiving their mental health information or services that way.

Those who complete the survey questionnaire will be invited to participate in focus group discussions to talk further about issues raised, or perhaps suggest areas of concern the researchers haven't identified.

Bob said older people could be expected to suffer from depression, anxiety, need psychological help due to chronic physical illness, simply aging, or in caring for others, and those in rural communities, who found it hardest to access services, needed them at least as much as anyone else.

The benefits of online and technology-based help are clear, being accessed from home without the need for expensive travel or perhaps even appointments, but how are they best presented?

To give your feedback, call Bob on 46311480 or go to www.bit.ly/usqstudy.


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