Text-ting in the time of crisis – Supporting Global mental health during Covid-19

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, Queensland e-health company Virtual Psychologist is leading an innovative approach to tackle the global psychological toll of Covid-19. 

Founded by clinical psychologist, Dervla Loughnane in 2015, Virtual Psychologist is Australia’s first text-based counselling service and is connecting mental health professionals with users via a text-based e-therapy platform. The application allows users to receive on-demand counselling (at any time of the day) via text message in a service Loughnane refers to as “the Uber of psychology.” 

The company was a recent successful recipient of funding under the Go Global Export program, which was designed to support Queensland exporters to leverage the opportunities opening up in markets during the Covid 19 pandemic.  With support from the Program, Virtual Psychologist has successfully secured a deal with the Philippines’ largest mobile network provider, Globe Telecom, that will see them delivering their text-based psychology services for Globe employees. The success of this deal will also allow for larger deployment among Globe Telecom’s network in the Philippines and with the company’s subsidiaries, affiliates and CSR partners. 

Called HopeChat, the service is provided free to Globe employees for four months as a way to further help them cope with the fear, worry, and stress caused by the current pandemic and the significant changes that it brings to people’s lives. Since counseling takes place on an exclusive Facebook chat link from Globe’s Workplace, it is most beneficial to people who do not want their conversations to be overheard; those who are uncomfortable with voice, video, or face-to-face interactions; and those who want the opportunity to review the discussion after a session.

“We understand how overwhelming the situation is for many of us who have to manage work and personal responsibilities simultaneously, while trying to deal with the health threats of COVID-19. This is why Globe is doing its best to help minimize the emotional and mental burden of our employees and ensure that their well-being is taken care of,” said Renato Jiao, Globe Chief Human Resource Officer. “The strategic partnership we have with Virtual Psychologist expands the available mental health support that Globe provides to its employees and makes mental health interventions even more accessible,” said Jiao.

The program funding has allowed Virtual Psychologist to engage software development resources in Queensland to customise their platform to allow for the delivery of Tagalog language services, and to navigate the legal and data security requirements specific to the Philippine market, which are vital to the program.

The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale and has fuelled demand for digital sources of mental health support. Virtual Psychologist is filling this gap as companies are seeking out mental health support to manage the mental health of staff. Virtual Psychologist founder Dervla Loughnane stated, “Covid-19 pandemic has created an immediate, increased need for digital health services. Given the current realities of life in our increasingly digital world — and the demands of social distancing — it makes sense that people turn to remote sources of psychological support.”

Demand for virtual psychologists’ service has skyrocketed with the latest statistics showing business had grown 186% over the last 6 months in terms of user engagement. 

Virtual Psychologist’s text-based psychology platform has been recognized as a leading provider of e-therapy services and was awarded $1.1 million in Federal Funding in 2018 to extend its text-based-counselling service to regional Australia. The service has been described as a literal lifesaver in rural communities, where farmers have been faced by relentless drought and more recent bushfires.  Many people in the rural and remote community do not have access to mental health services and due to their location may be several hundred thousand kilometres away from the nearest mental health practitioner.

With a growing number of Queensland communities facing a range of hardships as they continue to recover from recent natural disasters, and now covid-19, Virtual Psychologist is making a difference to many lives, particularly in remote and regional areas where access to mental health support is limited. 

In addition to raising awareness of mental health, the company’s recent export success is also driving increased employment opportunities in Queensland. 

TIQ looks forward to continuing to support Virtual Psychologists’ exciting growth journey. 

About Globe Telecom

Globe Telecom, Inc.  is a leading full-service telecommunications company in the Philippines and publicly listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange with the stock symbol GLO. The company serves the telecommunications and technology needs of consumers and businesses across an entire suite of products and services including mobile, fixed, broadband, data connectivity, internet and managed services. It has major interests in financial technology, digital marketing solutions, venture capital funding for startups,  and virtual healthcare. In 2019, Globe became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, committing to implement universal sustainability principles. Its principals are Ayala Corporation and Singtel, acknowledged industry leaders in the country and in the region. For more information, visit www.globe.com.ph. Follow @enjoyglobe on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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