Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Smart Phones for Mental Health

DOD has made a free smart phone mobile application available to help service members, veterans, and family members track their emotional health. DOD developed the application referred to as “T2 MoodTracker” at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury in their National Center for Telehealth and Technology.

The application lets users monitor emotional experiences associated with common deployment related behavioral health issues such as post traumatic stress, brain injury, life stress, depression and anxiety, plus users can add other issues that they would like to monitor.

Each issue has a set of ten descriptions called affective anchors, or feeling anchors, that let users focus in on exactly how their specific issues are making them feel. For example, within the depression description, the rating screen shows a set of ten anchors.

Suppose someone is depressed but yet sometimes happy, others might feel worthless yet sometimes valuable, others tired yet at times energetic, and lonely but yet involved. The user then would move a slider to indicate where on that scale they fit. The application also lets users make notes about special circumstances for any given day or rating.

The application tracks user inputs which makes it possible for users to go to a graph and look up their ratings in a particular area. For instance, if depression is the problem, then the user will see a graph of all their depression ratings for as long as the user has been monitoring depression. Application users can use the results as a self-help tool or share the results with a therapist or healthcare professional to provide a record of their emotional experiences over time.

So far, more than 5,000 people have downloaded the application in just over a month and have recorded more than 8,000 sessions and the application is used on every continent except for Antarctica. The T2MoodTracker application is available for smart phones using Google’s Android operating system and there are plans for the application to be available for iPhone users early in 2011.