Queensland company Virtual Psychologist is supporting global mental health during COVID-19, entering into a major agreement in the Philippines to provide text-based counselling services.

The Gold Coast company has signed a contract with Globe Telecom – the Philippines’ largest mobile network provider – to deliver text-based psychology services to its staff, with potential to also roll services out to the company’s millions of subscribers.

Founded by psychologist Dervla Loughnane in 2015, Virtual Psychologist is the first Australian service of its kind, connecting users with mental health professionals via a text-based e-therapy platform.

The application allows users to receive on-demand counselling at any time of the day via text messages.

Ms Loughnane said the company would initially provide its HopeChat counselling service to Globe Telecom’s staff, with potential to reach more than 100 million people in the future.

‘Our initial agreement is to provide text-based counselling services as part of Globe Telecom’s Employee Assistance Program, at a time when their staff are experiencing higher levels of stress due to COVID-19,’ she said.

‘Looking ahead, Globe Telecom is also interested in exploring the potential for us to deliver mental health services to their mobile phone subscribers, who number more than 100 million across the Philippines.

‘It’s very rewarding to be able to bring counselling to more people in need around the world.’

Globe’s Chief HR Officer Renato Jiao said HopeChat would initially provide free counselling to Globe employees, primarily through a confidential Facebook chat link.

‘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,’ he said.

‘This is why Globe is doing its best to help minimise the emotional and mental burden on our employees and ensure that their wellbeing is taken care of.

‘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.’

Virtual Psychologist’s Philippines’ contract was secured with support from TIQ.

TIQ Acting CEO Richard Watson said Virtual Psychologist was offering an innovative support model that was right for the times.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has created an immediate, increased need for digital health services,’ he said.

‘Given the current realities of life and the demands of social distancing, it makes sense that people turn to remote sources of psychological support such as text-based counselling.

‘Virtual Psychologist already has experience responding to community-wide crises at home in Australia, such as flood and bushfires.

‘It’s a logical next step to support mental health during the pandemic, and their model is one that can be customised so that they can help people in countries around the world.’

A team of 6 psychologists and 5 IT specialists, all based in Queensland, will support the remote service for Globe employees.

Virtual Psychologist has been recognised as a leading e-therapy provider in Australia during recent crises, with government contracts to provide counselling to people in rural and remote areas, such as bushfire survivors and farmers facing drought.

If you have a product you think could succeed in the ASEAN region, connect with TIQ today.

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