Mental Health? There’s an App For That.

I’ve looked at various ways researchers and therapists are using new technology to treat and study anxiety and panic previous. Along those same lines, a old NPR piece entitled Mental Health Apps: Like a ‘Therapist in Your Pocket’ addresses the increasing availability of mobile apps for use in managing a variety of mental health ailments. From the article:

“Here’s how one of the apps, called “Mobile Therapy,” works: Throughout the day at random times, a “mood map” pops up on a user’s cell phone screen. “People drag a little red dot around that screen with their finger to indicate their current mood,” says Dr. Margaret Morris, a clinical psychologist working at Intel Corp. and the app’s designer. Users also can chart their energy levels, sleep patterns, activities, foods eaten and more, she says….

Morris designed the app, which can be downloaded onto most cell phones, to try to help people manage the stress of everyday life, to improve their mental health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Based on the information entered by the user, the app offers “therapeutic exercises” ranging from “breathing visualizations to progressive muscle relaxation” to useful ways to disengage from a stressful situation, Morris says. And the information the app captures can later be charted, printed out and reviewed. The idea is that users can look at a whole week of mood data to see if there are any connections between their mood and other factors happening in their lives, and record it into the app.

Morris’ Mobile Therapy app has been beta-tested in 60 people, and “everyone who used it described new insights about their emotional variability” and said it helped reduce their stress, she says.”

Speaking as someone who now owns a smart phone and once worried about being on time to appointments a whole lot more than the average person, I say ‘whatever works’. Phones now-a-days don’t just allow us to make calls, send tweets or texts, they can allow us to track our steps in a day, count our calories burnt and even carry out blood tests.

I believe smart phones now have the power to prevent missed doctor appointments, increase awareness about mental health, but most of all, save lives. Remote medical advice has saved my life and this is why I speak so passionately about this. Mobile advice breaks down the barriers of discussing private issues, and most of the time I can speak honestly about how I am feeling. This allows me to self-help (which I find most beneficial), I am currently using my smartphone to share CBT homework with my therapist, and in many cases I have used my smartphone to share information with my GP and took control of my own health.

There have been rapid advances in smartphone technology, increased ownership and the need for healthcare. I feel smartphones are ready to take on a key role in helping both the patient and the NHS. I am hoping that one day I will be able to work for a firm specialising in healthcare innovation in order to help someone like the way I was once helped.

How about you? Have you tried any mental-health apps? How’d it go?

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