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InPsych 2016 | Vol 38

April | Issue 2

Psychology in current issues

Psych online

Psych Online is a new InPsych feature that showcases mental health and wellbeing apps and online sites to assist APS psychologists in maintaining up-to-date knowledge of online mental health and wellbeing services.

Building positivity, resilience and overall mental wellbeing through play in the school setting

The program: ReachOut Orb
Developer: ReachOut.com
Web address: http://au.professionals.reachout.com/orb

ReachOut Orb is a fun yet 'serious' educational game intended to teach Year 9 and 10 students to identify and use their strengths, enhance their positivity, develop and sustain positive relationships, and build resilience, in short to improve their mental wellbeing through the practice of play.

The game, designed for iPad (iOS 8.0 and above) is also available for Desktop (PC and Mac) and takes place in an enigmatic world where students have to reverse a negative force called ‘The Glitch’ by interacting with a range of characters that are overwhelmed by negativity. Using Avatars customised to their character strengths, students progress through the visually stunning world of ReachOut Orb, learning from the choices they make along the way. They are joined on their journey by a powerful artifact known as ‘The Orb’. The Orb must be recharged daily by inputting three good things, encouraging students to evaluate their life through a positive lens.

ReachOut Orb is simple to use. The intuitive interface means that students can progress at their own speed, without supervision. Teachers are provided with free curriculum-mapped resources developed by positive psychology experts to support the lessons in ReachOut Orb.

The game initially went through a pilot program at four high schools and the results were positive. While it is designed for Health and Physical Education (HPE) and Personal Development Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) teachers, student wellbeing coordinators, tutors and mentors, it could easily be used in session by psychologists working with young people interested in using technology as part of their psycho-education initiatives. The step-by-step Quick Guide and detailed How-to Guide mean that even psychologists with no gaming experience will find it easy to use.

Treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms in young people

The program: OCD? Not Me!
Developer: funded by the Department
of Health
Web address: www.ocdnotme.com.au

OCD? Not Me! is a fully-automated, self-guided, online treatment program for young people (12-18 years) who are experiencing symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It is based on the principles of exposure and response prevention and is presented through an engaging, user-friendly online platform.

The program involves eight stages, and is structured around a journey up ‘OCD Mountain’. In this journey, users are invited to undertake personalised Mountain Challenges designed to help them combat the symptoms of OCD. They are provided with climbing equipment to help them up the mountain, including psychoeducation, and evidence-based strategies for beating OCD. The program incorporates interactive exercises, rewards, and resources for parents and caregivers, so that they are better able to support their young person through the program.

OCD? Not Me! is provided free of charge to eligible users, and online assessment is available to determine eligibility for the program. While it has been designed to be completed independently by the young person, a therapist-assisted version has now also been developed and is available on the website. In addition, the website includes a searchable treatment provider database for those young people and their parents who would like to seek additional services.

Supporting exercise and activity scheduling

The program: Couch to 5K
Developer: Active Network
Web address: Apple itunes app

Couch to 5K is an app that has been developed to help support and encourage people of all ages to spend just 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, for nine weeks to do some initial gentle jogging, and gradually increasing their exercise to the point where they can jog their first 5K. For some clients, it is just the kind of app that will appeal where exercise and/or physical activity scheduling is indicated or desirable.

Clients can choose from 4 different motivating virtual coaches – Johnny Dead, Constance, Billie or Sergeant Block. They can hear human audio cues to guide them through each workout and listen to their favourite playlists with an in-app music player. The app also has treadmill support and provides users with graphs for workouts to compare distance and pace. Clients are assured it is not about how fast they are going: Running faster can wait until their bones are stronger and their body is fitter. The app is only used after a medical examination and an okay from their GP that the client is physically able to participate.


Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on April 2016. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.