Mental Health Worries? There’s an App for that.

Researchers in Australia are attempting to bridge the gap between patients and doctors when it comes to mental health concerns.  Diagnosing and managing mental health issues is often difficult in the busy worlds and short-length visits inhabited by most doctors and their patients.  So those researchers are turning to technology.

The scientists studied the effectiveness of a mobile phone program to monitor mental health on several groups of adolescents and young adults.  The participants were 14 to 24 years of age and had at least mild mental health concerns already identified by their physicians.  Each of them was given a mobile phone with the “mobiletype” application and divided into one of two groups.  One group was actively monitored while the other was only passively monitored (a control). The study also included internet-based and telephone support for participants and providers.

The groups that used the app actively for the four week study period scored with improvements on the standardized DASS (Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale) while those in the controls remained relatively static.

One of the reasons young people were chosen is that they are statistically less likely to recognize the symptoms of mental health conditions and unless their physician is actively aware of the potential problems, may never be diagnosed or given preventive measures.  Through the studies to test the app, researchers found that this particular group could benefit from the technology.

Physicians involved in the study hope to see more young people willing to use the app given the accessibility it gives young people.  Study specifics and results were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

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