MindMax: Using interest in sport and videogames to engage young people with mental health and wellbeing resources


Project dates: 01/03/2015 - 30/11/2018

What did we do?

MindMax is an mHealth app produced by QUT, The Mind Room, the Australian Football League Players’ Association (AFLPA) and the Brain and Mind Centre (University of Sydney), designed to promote wellbeing of young Australians and young men in particular. It delivers wellbeing educational content within a framework in which gameplay (making use of two in-app casual games) is positioned as a reward for engagement. The project was evaluated through a range of quantitative and qualitative methods.

What did we find out?

Across all modes of evaluation, consistent evidence was found regarding the value of pairing mobile Health (mHealth) technology with a well-recognised sports code in terms of engaging young men with the wellbeing content. AFL Ambassadors appearing in promotions, participating in the Share tab, and sharing their experiences in the module videos effectively encouraged users to download the app, and feel more comfortable sharing their own experiences in the app. AFL ambassadors also made participation in the guided meditation more meaningful and encouraged self-reflection (as is reported in Section 11, interview study). There was also clear evidence that casual games and gamification were an effective engagement strategy to the extent that this kept some participants using the app while they were waiting for the release of new content, as well as encouraging them to return to the wellbeing modules.

Funding / Grants

  • Movember Foundation (2015 - 2018)

Chief Investigators


Other Team Members

  • Dr Kellie Vella
  • Dr Madison Klarkowski



  • Cheng, Vanessa, Davenport, Tracey, Johnson, Daniel, Vella, Kellie, Mitchell, Joanne, Hickie, Ian B. (2020) Naturalistic evaluation of a sport-themed mental health and wellbeing app aimed at men (MindMax), that incorporates applied video games and gamification. Internet Interventions, 20, pp.Article number: 100306 1-11.
  • Cheng, Vanessa, Davenport, Tracey, Johnson, Daniel, Vella, Kellie, Mitchell, Joanne, Hickie, Ian (2018) An app that incorporates gamification, mini-games, and social connection to improve men's mental health and well-being (MindMax): Participatory design process. JMIR Mental Health, 5 (4), pp.Article number: e11068 1-16.
  • Vella, Kellie, Peever, Nicole, Klarkowski, Madison, Ploderer, Bernd, Mitchell, Joanne, Johnson, Daniel (2018) Using applied games to engage mHealth users: A case study of MindMax. In Toups, Z O, Wyeth, P (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play, pp.511-522.
  • Mitchell, Joanne, Vella, Kellie, Johnson, Daniel, Peever, Nicole, Cheng, Vanessa, Davenport, Tracey, Burns, Jane, Hickie, Ian, Kyle, Anne, Hedley, Brent, et al. (2017) MindMax: Using videogames and sport to engage young men and improve wellbeing. In Calvo, R A, Picrad, R W, Torous, J, Dinakar, K (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd Symposium Computing and Mental Health, 2017, pp.1-5.
  • Vella, Kellie, Johnson, Daniel, Peever, Nicole, Cheng, Vanessa, Davenport, Tracey, Mitchell, Jo (2017) Motivating engagement with a wellbeing app using video games and gamification. In Orji, R, Vella, K, nacke, L, van Dooren, Johnson, D, Tondello, G F (Eds.), Proceedings of the Positive Gaming: Workshop on Gamification and Games for Wellbeing 2017 [CEUR Workshop Proceedings, Volume 2055], pp.1-6.
  • Peever, Nicole, Vella, Kellie, Johnson, Daniel, Ploderer, Bernd, Klarkowski, Madison, Mitchell, Jo (2017) Understanding initial experiences with Mindmax, an mHealth app that draws on shared interests in sports and video games. In Soro, A, Vyas, D, Waycott, J, Ploderer, B, Morrison, A, Brereton, M (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference (OzCHI 2017), pp.438-442.