Using e-hub self-help programs

How are e-hub self-help programs used?

e-hub self-help programs can be used at any time to build resilience, prevent the development of mental health difficulties and to promote wellbeing. They can also be used at any point in recovery to learn symptom management skills.

Before therapy, e-hub self-help programs may help people understand the difficulties they may be experiencing, the kinds of help available and how to access the help they want. When a person wants to work on their difficulties, the programs can be used as a form of self-help – the person can work through the program themselves or with the support of a carer or health professional. The programs can also be used by psychological therapists as part of the therapy they provide.

e-hub self-help programs are used in four main ways:

Programs such as moodgym and e-couch can be used to build resilience, promote wellbeing and help prevent the development of symptoms. moodgym in particular was designed with this purpose in mind and research has indicated that it can be useful in preventing depression in adolescent boys, and anxiety in adolescent boys and girls (see moodgym research references). Ongoing research is investigating its use with large community populations, as well as with specific groups such as young people and medical interns.

BluePages may also be helpful in prevention, because it helps people understand the experience and treatment of depression.

How e-hub self-help programs can be used in this way

  • Interested individuals can directly access the programs
  • Programs can be given to a supervised group of people that has access to a number of computers (for example in secondary school classes)

e-hub self-help programs can be used by people who want to learn strategies for managing difficulties such as anxiety and depression, who want to participate in peer-to-peer support, or who want to access quality information about depression and how to get help.

How e-hub self-help programs can be used in this way

  • Interested individuals can directly access the programs free of charge at any time over the Internet.
  • One way to help other people who may benefit from these programs is to let them know about the programs. This can work well if you are a personal friend, carer or support worker or a service provider who is not a mental health specialist such as a doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, dietician, pharmacist, youth worker, teacher or community worker. If you have ongoing contact with the person, it can be helpful to check whether they have found the programs to be useful and to check whether they would like to know about other forms of help.

Guided self-help means that the person works through the program as a self-help intervention, but stays in touch with a supporter as they do so.

The main job of the support person is to encourage and support the program user, help them reflect on their progress, and help them to find other treatments if necessary.

Guided self-help is different to therapy, because the main treatment is in the programs rather than in the contact being provided by the support person. A guided self-help supporter should be familiar with the programs, be able to support people who have mental health problems and be able to assist the program user to find other forms of help as necessary.

How e-hub self-help programs can be used in this way

  • Usually a way of keeping in touch will be agreed at the beginning of the program. This can involve contact by phone, email, videoconferencing and/or face to face meetings, depending on the expertise of the support person.

    Follow-ups can be arranged regularly at specific times (such as once a week), when particular milestones are reached in the programs (eg, after completion of a module), and/or at the request of the person completing the program. It can be helpful to arrange a follow-up when the person has finished their online program to discuss outcomes and provide additional referrals or treatment as required.

  • In some situations, psychological therapists may encourage people to learn symptom management skills by using the programs as a form of self-help or guided self help. This may be useful where, for example, it has been agreed to use direct contact sessions to work on other issues or in ways that are more dependent on the therapeutic relationship.

Programs such as moodgym and e-couch can be incorporated as an adjunct to the therapy provided by a qualified psychological therapist. This adjunctive use can occur in either individual or group settings.

Research has shown that the addition of moodgym to a brief face to face individual CBT intervention for young people with mild-moderate levels of depression and anxiety was more effective than the face to face intervention by itself (Sethi, Campbell and Ellis, 2010 – see moodgym Research evidence).

How e-hub self-help programs can be used in this way

  • Therapists may work in a structured manner through each part of the program with the person and discuss the material in detail as part of the therapy. This helps the person to understand the material more deeply and practice using the skills in their everyday life.

    This is similar to using a therapy manual except that e-hub programs are freely available and subject to vigorous evaluation and research.

  • Alternatively, therapists may choose to use specific parts of the programs that are the most relevant to the person's therapy – for example, the exercise toolkit in the Depression stream of e-couch, or the relaxation toolkit in the Anxiety & Worry stream.

How do the programs support adjunctive use?

  • Psychological therapists and other mental health professionals routinely provide comprehensive assessments according to their professional training and area of work. Additional symptom monitoring is available through the Goldberg Anxiety and Depression Questionnaires that are repeated in e-couch and moodgym. Users complete these questionnaires each time they complete a moodgym module. In e-couch, users are asked to complete these questionnaires, along with the Social Phobia Screener (SOPHS), at intervals of at least two weeks and they can also complete them in their program workbook at any time. Users can print out questionnaire data to provide to therapists.

  • At the end of each of its modules moodgym provides a summary of material covered and of the user's progress. This summary can be printed out by the user and reviewed by the therapist.

Note that different programs might be helpful at different times

For example, when people are beginning to think about their difficulties and what kinds of help they would like to access, programs such as BluePages and the information modules of e-couch may be most helpful.

When people want to learn how to prevent difficulties or manage symptoms, moodgym and the e-couch self-help modules may be the most helpful.

It may be helpful to revisit any of the programs after treatment to help maintain changes that have been made and to allow early detection and intervention if symptoms are beginning to occur again.