What is it?
myCompass is a web-based self-help program, modeled on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy. It is designed to improve symptoms for people with mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues, especially those who can’t access treatment due to distance or time.
How does myCompass work?
First, users register for a free account at www.mycompass.org.au. Since the program was originally designed for Australians, users must enter a valid Australian mobile number, state, and postcode to register, however there is no verification system that would prevent non-Australians from using the service.
The registration process includes screeners for common symptoms and daily manifestations of depression and anxiety. Based on each individual’s answers, the program will recommend modules tailored to address specific behavior patterns and experiences.
The MyCompass toolbox comprises eight main sections:
- Profile: Contains contact details, and the registration questionnaires that can be updated at any time. This information drives the recommended modules. The profile also includes a diary where users can jot down ideas, goals, or planned actions.
- Tracking: Creates awareness of moods, feelings, and possible triggers by keeping a log of the users’ feelings – along with starting points for action.
- Stories: Real-life accounts from people with similar conditions, and a place for users to share their own.
- Modules: Interactive games designed to develop coping mechanisms. Most modules last for two to three weeks. myCompass recommends completing one 10-minute skills session a week. The modules ask users to complete tasks at home between sessions to practice what they have learned.
- Snippets: Messages, facts, and tips to motivate and inspire. Users have the option to receive daily snippets via text or email.
- Learn: Links to fact sheets on common conditions and related topics to find additional reading material.
- Help: A how-to guide on using myCompass most effectively.
For best results, myCompass recommends tracking at least two moods, and completing two modules within 6 weeks of joining. Users have the option of enabling daily or weekly text or email reminders to log in and use the program.
Who is myCompass for?
myCompass is designed for individuals with mild to moderate stress, anxiety, and/or depression. You must be 18 or older to use the program.
It is not intended for people with severe conditions, and should not replace seeing a physician. People with more severe depression and anxiety can use myCompass under the supervision of a health professional.
How much does it cost?
myCompass is a free e-Mental health program created by The Black Dog Institute and the Australian Government Department of Health.
What studies have been done on myCompass?
A randomized, controlled study assigned 720 Australian participants to either use myCompass or to participate in an attention control program or to site on a waitlist for seven weeks. At the end of the trial, myCompass users reported significant improvements in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. These gains persisted through a three-month follow-up appointment. This provides support for myCompass as a first-step, low-cost public health program for mild symptoms of these conditions. This study and the creation of myCompass were funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging, which could create an incentive to report positive results.
Several international studies have found that online CBT programs, like myCompass, are effective for patients with mild to moderate symptoms. However, without therapist supervision and monitoring, many people stop using a web program, which stunts the benefits. Additionally, in the U.S., physicians worry that without a prior meeting with a therapist, a person with a more severe condition may waste time with a program that is not designed to help their symptoms and not improve.
Where can I learn more?
Learn more at www.mycompass.org.au.
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