Effectiveness of MH-Guru, a brief online mental health program for the workplace: A randomised controlled trial

Kathleen M. Griffiths*, Kylie Bennett, Jennie Walker, Susan Goldsmid, Anthony Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Background Depression and anxiety interfere with an individual's quality of life and result in substantial economic costs to the workplace through lost productivity. The internet offers an unparalleled opportunity for the large scale, cost-effective delivery of mental health awareness and destigmatisation programs in the workplace. However, to date high quality assessments of the effectiveness of such workplace programs have been confined to health professional settings. The current study reports the effectiveness of Mental Health Guru (MH-Guru), a two-module online mental health workplace induction program. Methods A total of 507 employees from a large multi-departmental government workplace were randomised to a 2-week online depression and anxiety educational program (Mental Health Guru; MH-Guru), or a Wait List Control condition. Participants completed online surveys at baseline, 1 week post-intervention and at 6-month follow-up. Primary outcome measures included depression and anxiety literacy, personal stigma about depression and anxiety, and help seeking intentions for anxiety and depression at post-test. Secondary measures included help-seeking attitudes and self-reported help seeking behaviour. Satisfaction measures were also collected. Results Dropout at post intervention was 26.7% and 21.0% for the MH-Guru and Control conditions respectively. Relative to Control, MH-Guru participants showed significantly greater improvements in depression and anxiety literacy at post intervention. Between group standardized effect sizes at post-test and 6-months were 0.78 and 0.81 for depression literacy and 0.80 and 0.79 for anxiety literacy. Compared to the Control participants, the MH-Guru group also showed significantly greater reductions in depression and anxiety personal stigma. Between group effect sizes in stigma for depression were − 0.56 and − 0.47 at post-test and 6-months respectively and − 0.42 at both time points for anxiety. The MH-Guru intervention was not associated with a differentially greater increase in anxiety or depression help-seeking intentions or improvement in help seeking attitudes compared to the Control group. However, self-reported help-seeking behaviour was significantly greater in the MH-Guru group at post-test. In addition, the MH-Guru group showed greater intentions to seek help for depression from the Internet at 6-month follow-up. Satisfaction items suggested that the program was acceptable to employees. Conclusions Brief online programs such as MH-Guru have the potential to play an important role in increasing mental health awareness and decreasing stigmatizing attitudes in the workplace, and by extension the general community.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-39
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternet Interventions
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


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