A new app has been launched by a Bristol alumni which enables patients suffering with mental health issues to book video consultations with leading online therapists the very same day.
Recently launched this September, the Dr Julian app is the enterprise of ex-Bristol Medical School student, Doctor Julian Nesbitt.
As a doctor, he was motivated to develop the app after his time at Swindon A&E. Whilst there he was struck by the number of patients who had resorted to self-harm.
‘A lot of the main reasons for such behavior was they were on long waiting lists,’ said Nesbitt, Great Western Hospital-based doctor.
‘They weren’t able to access help and instead were clogging up the A&E department and ending up in a really severe situation where they wanted to harm themselves.
‘If they had been able to access help sooner a lot of these problems could have been avoided,’ Nesbitt added.
— Dr Julian (@drjulianapp) September 3, 2017
The platform provides a free, standardised GP test to monitor depression or anxiety levels. After signing up, users are free to browse through a number of fully qualified counsellors and select an individual based on their description.
The booking process is straight forward, as all patients have to do is select a date and time slot on the calendar.
Whilst still in the early stages, Nesbitt is looking towards future updates to advance the service the app provides further and improve accessibility with students. When speaking to Epigram Nesbitt revealed his plans to work with Bristol University.
‘I know that they were very interested but I am still waiting for a response.
‘At this point until the university agrees to fund them I can’t give out free appointments but I am giving out a heavy student discount.
‘This could even be used as an overflow service for the university counsellor,’ he told Epigram.
As a Bristol graduate, Nesbitt recounted his experience with mental health services during his time at the university.
‘I know that they offered a counselling service but waiting lists were quite long.’
The video approach to therapy is something Nesbitt thinks would work well for some students to tackle the issue of the 4-6 weeks waiting list with Bristol university counsellors.
‘I think it is really good for students because they might not know where to look or go and they can so easily just look on the app store to download the app, choose who they want to see on the calendar and book an appointment for that same afternoon from their dorm room,’ he said.
The video approach to mental healthcare is a first for the app store. The Dr Julian app differs from similar platforms as the consultations are via video chat rather than text format.
— Dr Julian (@drjulianapp) August 5, 2017
So far, more than 65 therapists have signed up to the scheme. They range from generalists to specialists in certain areas such as gambling and addiction.
There are strict criteria to pass for everyone involved in the app. The therapists must have a diploma level qualification, DBS checks, risk management training, online training and gone through a thorough vetting process. Nesbitt and his team aim to ‘Take out the stress of finding the right therapist and find the right people for you’, as stated when talking with Epigram.
The free app is available on iOS Apple devices from the App store now.
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