New e-mental health tool shows promise for men with depression
Published: 16 August, 2017
Results of a new study reveal the Man Central online tool, developed by Black Dog Institute researchers, significantly reduced symptoms of depression.
A pilot study of an online mental health tool designed specifically for men has shown promising results in reducing symptoms of depression.
Man Central, developed by Black Dog Institute researchers incorporates self-care strategies identified by Australian men in previous research as being effective in preventing and managing their depression.
Symptoms of depression were significantly reduced among men with at least mild depression who used Man Central for four weeks, the study found. Depression risk and work and social functioning also significantly improved.
The study, just published in the journal JMIR Mental Health, was funded by beyondblue with donations from The Movember Foundation and is the fifth in a Black Dog series investigating men’s mental health.
Australian men die from suicide at three times the rate of women. But men are also less likely to seek professional help for health problems and have not traditionally accessed online mental health programs at the same rate as women.
The study’s lead author, Black Dog Institute research fellow Dr Andrea Fogarty, said any tool that could potentially lessen the impact of depression or stress was important.
“The causes of suicide are complex. While Man Central alone can’t reduce high rates of suicide, it's another way of reaching men where they are – it's private, anonymous and men can use it any time they want. For those who are reluctant to use existing services, this could be a crucial first step.”
Man Central helps men understand the links between mood and behaviour and to recognise warning signs. It allows them to try a range of self-management strategies that other men have found useful and effective, helping them build a personalised plan to manage stress in the future.
Co-author Associate Professor Judy Proudfoot, who led the men’s program of research studies at Black Dog Institute, said the study highlighted that men are interested in using male-targeted e-mental health programs to manage their mental health.
Participants accessed Man Central through the Black Dog Institute’s online self-help program called myCompass, with the symptom tracker proving the most popular function.
“Symptoms of depression in men can be masked and go unrecognised,” Associate Professor Proudfoot said. “They can be expressed as excessive alcohol or drug use to numb distress, over-work to distract from problems, anger, aggression, risk-taking or taking sick days.”
Man Central is recommended for men with mild depression symptoms, she said.
“If symptoms become more severe, the user is recommended to step up to a more intensive level of treatment, such as face-to-face therapy. The aim is to provide low intensity services for men with mild symptoms, freeing up the face-to-face services for those with more severe symptoms and providing the most appropriate treatment based on symptom severity.”
The Man Central tool is freely available now via registration with myCompass: https://www.mycompass.org.au/.
Media enquiries: Emily Cook, 0455 100 277 or send an email
The full research article can be accessed at http://mental.jmir.org/2017/3/e33/
If you or someone you know is in crisis please call one of the following national helplines:
LIFELINE COUNSELLING SERVICE: 13 11 14
SUICIDE CALL BACK SERVICE: 1300 659 467 (cost of a local call)