An evaluation of 'Reach Out Central': an online gaming program for supporting the mental health of young people.

National eTherapy Centre.Therapy Unit, Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn 3122, Australia.
Health Education Research (Impact Factor: 1.66). 02/2010; 25(4):563-74. DOI: 10.1093/her/cyq002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to conduct an evaluation of Reach Out Central (ROC), an online gaming program designed to support the mental health of people aged 16-25. The evaluation sought to determine the benefit of playing ROC on alcohol use, use of coping strategies, psychological distress, resilience and satisfaction with life. Changes in mental health literacy, mental health stigma and willingness to seek help and program satisfaction were also investigated. A single group (N = 266) quasi-experimental repeated measures (pre-, post-program, 2-month follow-up) design was employed. The results demonstrated positive improvements across all outcome measures for females; however, a non-significant worsening effect was observed for males on seeking support, avoidance and resilience. Improvements for both genders were observed on mental health literacy and help-seeking. However, literacy levels and help-seeking were significantly higher, and stigma significantly lower for females. Program satisfaction ratings were high irrespective of gender. Although some inconsistencies between genders were noted, ROC appears to enhance protective factors for the prevention or early intervention of mental health disorders. The results of this study need to be viewed with its limitations in mind, specifically, the use of an open trial methodology and the small number of male participants.

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May 21, 2014