e-Mental Health -Delivering Services Via the Net
14 March 2006 at 12:03 pm
The power of the Internet is showing how some services are being effectively delivered via the computer screen – 100-thousand people have already logged on to an award winning e-mental health program.
The site is called MoodGYM – an innovative, interactive web program designed to prevent and decrease depressive symptoms developed by the Centre for Mental Health Research, in Australia.
After only 18 months of operation it has had 100-thousand participants.
MoodGYm has won a number of prestigious awards since its inception, including the 2005 AHA Baxter Healthcare National Innovation Award from the Australian Healthcare Association.
The Director of the Centre, Professor Helen Christensen, says the high level of registrations for MoodGYM over such a short period illustrated its popularity and acceptability.
She says this level of usage also illustrates the feasibility of this delivery form of mental health service. People obviously want e-health services.
MoodGYM consists of five modules – an interactive game, anxiety and depression assessments, downloadable relaxation audio, a workbook and feedback assessment. It focuses on people with depression.
Professor Christensen says that one in five Australians will suffer from a mental health illness in any given year, and Internet based programs like MoodGYM offer anonymity and permanent access. MoodGYM is especially useful for people living in rural and remote areas who have difficulty accessing health professionals.
She says MoodGYM teaches the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy, which has been found to be helpful for people with depression. Using flashed diagrams and online exercises, MoodGYM demonstrates the relationship between thoughts and emotions – users are taught to come to grips with their own feelings and the ‘warpy’ thoughts that might accompany them.
MoodGYM also works through dealing with stress, handling separation and relationship break-ups, and suggesting relaxation and meditation techniques.
The Centre, which is supported by fund raising by the Australian Foundation for Mental Health Research (AFFIRM), is also studying the impact of MoodGYM on participants through the MoodGYM in General Practice project.
It aims to evaluate the effectiveness of MoodGYM as an adjunct for depression intervention in general practice.
MoodGYM in Schools also aims to evaluate the effectiveness in preventing depression and increasing resilience skills in young people aged 14-16 years.
You can find MoodGYM at www.moodgym.anu.edu.au.