Major depression (MD) is one of the prevalent disorders that affect most teenage adolescents. Twelve percent of adolescents aged 14 to 18 years will experience MD episodes, with potential negative impacts on behavioral health such as the increased risk of drug abuse, educational attainment, and interpersonal relationship (Leroy & Williams, 2013). This high prevalence of MD makes it an issue of health concern since it is a life-long disorder that reoccurs after every 5 to 7 years in people (Twomey & O’Reilly, 2017). With these devastative impacts of depression on adolescents, social workers need to adopt the MoodGYM program as an online intervention to address the problem.
MoodGYM is a free online-based interactive program designed to help users reduce mild to moderate symptoms of depression by learning good coping skills using principles of cognitive behavior therapy. Leroy and Williams (2013) noted that cognitive behavior therapy could improve people’s behavior by changing their thought patterns. Hence, this program focuses on changing a patient’s cognitive behavior such as behavioral activation, cognitive restructuring, and the relationship between thoughts and feelings (Twomey & O’Reilly, 2017). The program comprises an interactive game of five lasting for 20 to 40 minutes per module and an online workbook to record user’s responses and track their progress. The modules take more than six months to complete. After each module, every user is given a summary of the key module concepts and a report on changes in depression symptoms. Hence, this model encourages users to develop the skills learned in the program by applying them in real-world situations.
Initially, the MoodGYM program was designed to treat depressed adolescents aged 15 to 25 years of age. MoodGYM scenarios and characters reflect this initial design so that some content may be more relevant to young individuals than to older age groups (Twomey & O’Reilly, 2017). However, this program is effective in reducing suggestive symptoms of depression in adults. Although MoodGYM targets depressed adolescents, it also can be integrated as part of the therapy provided by a mental health professional.
MoodGYM program has both strengths and weaknesses for the user. On the one hand, this program contains modules designed for either individual users or as an aid to mental health therapy. Twomey and O’Reilly (2017) noted that the web interface was user-friendly; it uses simple language, visually appealing. On the contrary, users proceed to the next program without completing the exercises in each module; hence, it affects the overall reliability of the model. In summary, the MoodGYM program can reduce symptoms of depression by learning good coping skills using principles of cognitive behavior therapy.
Leroy, C. W., & Williams, L. R. (2013). Intervention with adolescents. In M. Holosko, C. Dulmus, & K. Sowers (Eds.), Social work practice with individuals and families: Evidence-informed assessments and interventions (pp. 97–124). Wiley.
Twomey, C., & O’Reilly, G. (2017). Effectiveness of a freely available computerized cognitive behavioural therapy programme (MoodGYM) for depression: Meta-analysis. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 51(3), 260-269. Web.