Yesterday's Los Angeles Times had an article about the benefits of telephone therapy. The article discussed research into using the telephone to treat depression in cancer patients, women suffering from post-partum depression, and patients with major depression. All of the studies found that patients benefited from the telephone therapy. In one case the patients improved more than when they received standard post-partum care at a clinic. The study involving cancer patients allowed patients to stay connected by means of calls with a nurse as well as with automated voice message systems. Surprisingly, the patients who used the automated calls improved more than those who did not. Researchers speculated that the feeling patients had of being a part of something was not dimished by using voice mail.
Medical News Today reports that the company M3 and Mental Health America, the nation's largest and oldest mental health advocacy and public education organization have collaborated to produce an iPhone app that can diagnose four major mental health conditions. Mental Health Checklist is a 27-question, three-minute online checklist which can be accessed online or from a PDA or smartphone. According to the story the test has been validated (in a study funded by M3) to be as accurate as an in office assessment. The smartphone/PDA app will also display a Suicide Hotline if the test indicates a risk for suicide.
Mental health apps that serve as supplements to ongoing therapy have been developed for mobile devices. Here are some examples of currently available apps:
Mobile Therapy provides patients with a mood map which appears on their cell phones randomly throughout the day. When the map pops up the patient places a dot on the map to represent how they're feeling. Later the therapist can print out and chart the patient's moods. The app also offers exercises and techniques based on the patient's responses.
This app has been beta tested and a journal article written on the results of the research.
Another app addresses the problem of getting teenagers to do CBT homework. They aren't too enthusiastic about written work but doing homework on their mobile devices is a different story.
Two other apps help patients with severe depression and schizophrenia by prompting them with techniques and homework.
The full article and radio show from NPR more fully describes these apps.