This tool will assist with:
- Young people experiencing mild to moderate forms of depression or anxiety
- Basic introduction of cognitive behaviour and interpersonal based therapy
- Developing cognitive based strategies to manage emotional stress
MoodGym is an online interactive cognitive behaviour (CBT) and interpersonal based therapy program used as a preventative and self-help tool for young people experiencing mild to moderate levels of depression or anxiety. Developed by ANU, it empowers the user, through completion of five modules, with cognitively based strategies to better manage emotional distress. Recent research indicates MoodGym has been successful in decreasing depressive symptoms and preventing new cases of anxiety.
Where to access this tool
MoodGym Program website
When to use MoodGym
The tool should be introduced to young people suffering from depression or anxiety that appear reluctant to engage. Before discussing this option of therapy after an assessment, a professional should consider the program’s suitability for the client and their circumstance. Whether they have regular access to a computer/internet, don’t mind reading and have time to commit.
What young people thought of MoodGym
- Concepts/information relating to CBT easy to understand and useful
- Self-guided format, able to track progress, available 24 hours, work at own pace
- Characters useful in relating different thoughts/moods covered in modules
- Quizzes helpful in pinpointing area of problem and focus
- Follow up links to professionals provided if extra assistance required
- Text heavy resource featuring oversimplified and childish language, characters and situations
- Possibility of users to get bored quickly with several steps needed to see results and repetitive quizzes
- Unable to skip through irrelevant sections
- Mandatory registration could be a barrier to continuing
Professionals’ advice on using MoodGym in practice
The tool should be introduced to young people in session after the professional has become familiar with the navigation and functions.
To start with, explore the program together, allowing the client to drive the computer. If the client is unmotivated or apprehensive about what is required, work through one module at a time with discussion in between.
If they seem capable, suggest they continue the work at home, reminding it is help rather than a hindrance.
Advice from young people
The MoodGym application is more suitable for adolescents who are mature, have time and a willingness to participate.
Kids may get bored by the interface and think its homework. If a client decides to try it, professionals should advise them of what to expect – very text heavy – but the results are worth the effort.
It should be used as a complementary tool and its effectiveness monitored regularly.
This tool was reviewed by Chris, Sarah and Brittany, young people from ReachOut.com. Professional advice was provided by Liesje Donkin (Psychologist) and Simon DuBois (Psychologist).