Achieving and maintaining good mental health

Part 5 of a series – self-guided e-therapies


Dr. Helga Hemberger
Dr. Helga Hemberger



This series by clinical psychologist Dr. Helga Hemberger* explores various aspects of getting in good ‘mental condition’ when living with a debilitating neurological condition, by providing ideas and tools for managing stress, improving mood and supporting a positive outlook.






Self-guided e-therapies

There are now a number of readily available apps and web-based programs that have been developed to assist people in improving their mood and preventing depression.

One of the most widely used self-guided e-therapies in Australia is MoodGYM.

MoodGYM is promoted as “a free self-help program to teach cognitive behaviour therapy skills to people vulnerable to depression and anxiety.”

MoodGYM has been developed by clinical researchers at the Australian National University. Research studies have shown a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety following completion of the program, with gains maintained at 12 month follow up.

MoodGYM has been based on cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy. These therapies can help you during times of stress, adversity, grief and loss. That is, you don’t need a mental health condition to benefit from a program like MoodGYM. Some proactive schools are even teaching children and teenagers basic CBT skills to help them along the path to adulthood.

MoodGYM teaches skills in:

  • Identifying early signs of depression and anxiety
  • Recognizing maladaptive thinking styles
  • Challenging negative thoughts
  • Constructing new, more adaptive ways of thinking
  • Improving health and reducing stress (sleep, relaxation, exercise, diet)
  • Increasing activities that are either pleasant or produce a sense of achievement (or both)
  • Constructing and implementing real-life experiments to test out the validity of negative thoughts, beliefs and predictions
  • Coping when relationships end.

How to

Getting started is simple. Just go to the MoodGym website, create a username and password, fill out a mood questionnaire and the program guides you through. The program is free. There are measures for assessing levels of depression or anxiety and charting progress. There is also a useful workbook in which you can record your responses to the program’s quizzes and exercises. You can complete MoodGYM at your own pace. There are 5 interactive modules which each take 30-40 minutes. You can log in and complete all or part of a module at any time and the program stores your previous responses.

This Way Up and e-couch are two other mood management programs available on the net.

Web programs offer skills and information to gain insight into your mood and help you cope with difficult times. They are intended to improve and prevent anxiety and depression. The programs are not intended as a treatment for severe depression. If you are feeling suicidal, call Emergency 000 or Lifeline 13 11 14 and tell the person answering your call that you are thinking about suicide. There are many people who are specially trained to help you get through these feelings.


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