Aims: The aim of this study was to develop an evidence-based self-help website, Computer Assisted Learning for the Mind (CALM) designed to improve mental health amongst medical students; and to assess the proportion, demographics and mental health of students who chose to use the site.
Methods: All 2nd and 3rd year medical students from one New Zealand university were invited to participate. Demographics and mental health scores of those accessing CALM were compared with those not accessing it. Outcome measures included depression (PHQ-9) and anxiety (GADS-7) scores recorded at baseline. Anonymous identifiers were used to track website use.
Results: Baseline questionnaires were completed by 279/321 (87%) of eligible students. CALM was accessed by 80/321 (25%) of the students over a 5 week period. Those who accessed CALM and could be linked by unique identifier (n=49) had significantly higher anxiety scores (p=0.01) but not higher depression scores (p=0.067) at baseline, than those who did not access CALM (n=230). Of those students with both PHQ-9 scores and GAD-7 scores =10 (at risk of significant depression and anxiety) at baseline, 41% went on to access CALM.
Conclusions: The CALM website was used by 25% of medical students, particularly those with poorer anxiety scores. Self-selection to a web-based resource may provide assistance to those most in need, but further research would be needed to assess effectiveness.