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Thea Cowie | 24 Jan 2018

An Australian mental health startup that has developed an algorithm to pair patients with a psychologist nationwide who best suits their needs is expanding its online therapy service and going old school with the addition of telephone sessions for those in remote regions with poor internet coverage.

Lysn aggregates the qualifications and specialties of hundreds of Australian psychologists and matches them with people seeking telehealth counselling sessions.

“When patients sign up, they complete a questionnaire that profiles their specific needs to best match them with the right psychologist using Lysn’s proprietary algorithm,” said Dr Jonathan King, founder of the startup with the motto: You talk, we lysn.

“This means that patients in both metropolitan and rural regions can now have access to a wide range of psychologists specialising in a field that best suits their requirements.”

Once a match has been made, patients can book a secure online video appointment via the platform, which recently partnered with HealthEngine.

“This collaboration now enables Australians to have access to mental health support provided by Lysn’s 120 plus psychologists throughout Australia, regardless of geography,” King said of the partnership with Australia’s largest online health marketplace.

Clinical and general psychologists now registered with Lysn specialise in a broad range of areas, including anxiety and depression, LGBTI, eating disorders, learning disabilities, drugs and alcohol, violence and PTSD.

As well as attempting to improve access to good mental health care, Lysn aims to make it more affordable by using a simple price structure, King said.

All appointments with a general or clinical psychologist are charged at $69.50 for 25 minutes or $139 for 50 minutes, plus a $4.95 booking fee.

Medicare rebates are available for patients in some rural locations.

King noted, however, that in many remote regions the minimum broadband internet connection required for the service (ADSL, cable or 4G mobile 300kbps+) was unavailable.

“Currently, about 50 per cent of our users are from regional areas, however we have not had people access from ultra remote areas,” he said.

In a bid to eradicate this barrier, Lysn will launch a phone therapy service later this month.

King said he hoped this would help address indigenous mental health issues.

“We will solve two major problems – distance that those in indigenous communities have to travel for care, and matching them up with culturally appropriate psychologists,“ he said.

Dr King is an Australian trained medical doctor who has worked in various rural and metropolitan hospitals in three different states over the past eight years.

Lysn was developed in response to what he saw as a “huge mental health burden” and associated stigma preventing access to essential services.

For help or information call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78, or visit beyondblue.org.au.