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August 11, 2011

Apple App Store and Mental Health

The “App Store” offers more than just angry birds and Twitter. Apps are now appearing to help persons with psychological problems manage their lives and interact with their Clinicians in a more productive manner.

Optimism is a mood chart app that helps one to develop strategies to manage depression, bipolar or other physical and mental health conditions. Optimism helps in an understanding of “triggers” and early warning signs or symptoms of a decline in mental health. It also allows the user to develop a wellness plan that documents strategies and appropriate steps in the event of illness and it integrates with health proviers, with detailed histories that can be reviewed quickly.

At Ease Anxiety and Worry Relief is an application which combines voice-guided breathing meditation, exercises and journaling. At Ease contains three easy, effective breathing meditations: deep breathing, breath awareness and belly breathing guided meditations. At Ease journaling gives exercises to do during the day and questions to write about as the user reflects on their experiences with the exercises.

CBT Pad is described as a diary application for assisting individuals with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Exercises. CBT Pad provides an effective method for recording the most common elements of CBT exercises such as the event or situation in which the thoughts occurred, the automatic thoughts and type of distorted thinking they represent, the consequence of the thoughts, an objective assessment of their accuracy and more balanced conclusion, and steps for further action.

Simply Being is an app that allows the user to meditate with voice guidance, choosing different meditation lengths, and listening with or without nature sounds or music. The voice guidance has been described as being very helpful.

Other apps are under development, including “Mobile Therapy”, as described in an NPR article. Throughout the day a mood map pops up on a user’s phone. “People drag a little red dot around the screen with their finger to indicate their current mood.” Apps like this will prove to be useful to a new generation of people who are technology dependent. Instead of keeping written journals, which they often neglect, their phone will prod them to take action, which can be shared with their Clinician and discussed.

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