What is eGrow?
New technology is helping Grow help more people manage and even overcome the effects of mental illness in Australia.
For 60 years, Grow’s program of Personal Growth and Development has been delivered the same way; peer to peer, face to face. The Program has always been about individuals coming together in a group setting, working on problems and solutions, guided by the Grow Program, and it’s been incredibly effective.
The peer group nature of the Program will never change but the growth of the internet and massive improvements in communication technology, have made it possible for Grow’s Program to help many more people. Particularly, the project is aimed people living in regional and remote parts of the Country, where the tyranny of distance and the stigma associated with mental illness, makes in-person meetings incredibly challenging.
Now, after two years of trials and extensive evaluation eGrow has arrived.
eGrow uses the internet to create virtual Mental Health peer support groups. People take part in video conference meetings from their own home or from wherever they can access an electronic device. The internet makes it possible to replicate traditional Grow groups regardless of where a person lives and for the meetings to offer face to face engagement and community building of in person groups.
The University of Qld’s Centre for Research Excellence in Telehealth has been Grow’s research partner for eGrow. Over the past two years, the Centre has been evaluating the effectiveness of eGrow.
The eGrow trial was focused on Queensland and the Maranoa region of Western Queensland and its principal town of Roma. Forty people took part in the trial. Overall satisfaction with eGrow was very high.
Impressively, the research is showing eGrow has the same recovery impact as face to face meetings and that participants rate their satisfaction with the Program very highly.
The other good news is that eGrow has proven to be very cost effective. The cost of delivery, when compared to face to face in rural and remote areas, is approximately 6:1 in favour of eGrow. The cost is dependent on several factors, but on average the cost per session for in person meetings in rural area is $802.05, while the average cost for an eGrow session is $184.39.
That means Grow can spread the benefits of the Program and help and empower many more people in their recovery. And that’s great news because Grow really does help.
According to the 2017 annual survey, 91% of Grow members had sought professional help for their mental health. Of those members, 44% report that Grow has helped them cooperate with professional help and 43% said that their need for professional assistance had decreased. Additionally, 58% of members reported a decrease in the need for hospitalisation. We know that 77.1% of members felt an improved sense of personal value, with 81.5% reporting an improved network of friends & personal supports. 87% said that they now felt part of the community, with around 24% stating that they had decreased their need for medication.
We are also expanding our online community to include a Recovery Community Online Forum that will offer moderated daily, peer led mutual support, underpinned by Grow’s Program of Growth and Development. This innovative delivery reaches into metropolitan, regional, rural & remote communities that are not otherwise serviced, where access is an issue or where fear of stigma is preventing people from seeking support.
Sixty years ago, Grow knew it had the right Program to help people make the most of their lives, despite the impacts of mental illness. Unlike many other approaches, the Grow Program didn’t rely on clinicians or a chemical cure. Instead the Grow Program put its confidence in people with mental health issues, helping themselves and helping others.
Grow has only ever been limited by its ability to reach all Australians. Now, thanks to eGrow that’s no longer an issue.
If you are interested in joining an eGrow Group or learning more go to https://www.grow.org.au/egrow/