The latest initiative from the Ministry of Health - a self-help programme featuring John Kirwan - is proving a success at helping depression sufferers.

The Journal, a six-week online self-help programme featuring former All Black and depression campaigner Kirwan as a personal coach, was launched in June as part of the ministry's national depression initiative (NDI).

Figures released by the ministry today show that of the 4485 people who had signed up to the programme, 70 had completed the entire course and 660 were halfway through.

The figures also show the reported severity of participants' depression had improved for 83 per cent of participants, based on self-assessment scores prior to, during and after completing the programme.

The ministry said that while it was still early days, The Journal was proving to be a successful initiative that was reaching out to and engaging with the public.

The NDI began with the popular television advertisements featuring a variety of kiwi celebrities, including Kirwan, relating their attempts to cope with depression in their own lives.

- NZPA