MoodGYM is an online interactive program that provides free mental help support. The website was started in Australia in 2004 as a trial to treat depression patients. Since then, it has crossed international barriers and is now offered in 6 languages. It has more than 800,000 people from 222 countries registered in its database.
MoodGYM focuses on the process of cognitive therapy. It consists of five modules, an interactive game, anxiety and depression assessments, downloadable relaxation audio, a workbook and feedback assessment.
Using flashed diagrams and online exercises, MoodGYM teaches the principles of cognitive behavior therapy – a proven treatment for depression. It also demonstrates the relationship between thoughts and emotions, and works through dealing with stress and relationship break-ups, as well as teaching relaxation and meditation techniques.” – MoodGYM website
It seeks to change the way the user thinks about themselves, battling both depression and anxiety. However, MoodGYM does not let user self diagnose themselves. A new user is put through a series of quizzes and exercises. Cognitive therapy has proved to work in face-to-face therapy and now it is proven to work through online interactions. Kathy Griffins from the Australia National University said that those who have used MoodGYM have reported to have done better in terms of depression, with a reduction in anxiety and even alcohol use.
MoodGYM and other online therapy/mental health programs like it, is just another way technology is increasingly blending into the medical field. With growing technology, advances in medicine are constantly happening; however, this is especially important in mental health for two reasons. One being that the statistics of those suffering from mental health issues is a vast amount of a majority of people. The other being that most people who have mental health issues do not seek treatment, actually about a third of those do not, whether that be for costs or personal reasons.
When MoodGYM first came out it was very controversial. Some thought, it was unethical and harmful. However, it has opened up the door for other programs to offer mental health support. This type of online therapy is innovative, mostly because it is creating convenience. People who are seeking support for mental health issues have less of an excuse to put off getting help. MoodGYM is also innovative because it is an online program that not only treats mental health issues but, a training program. It seeks to prevent mental health issues in youths. This is one of the first programs to build games and exercises that work the brain in a way to prevent any future mental issues. They do this by changing the way the user thinks about themselves and training the brain to recognizing toxic thoughts.
Read the New York Times Article about MoodGYM here.