Smartphones for Behavioral Health Care

 

Have you ever considered how smartphones might be used for behavioral health care?

Smartphones are mobile telephones that offer advanced computing functions. They allow users to run software applications or ‘apps’ as well as the ability to connect to the Internet. The rapid growth in the use of smartphones has opened a new world of opportunities for use in behavioral health care.

There are many smartphone apps available for behavioral health care purposes, such as symptom assessment, health education, resource location, practice exercises, and even the ability to track your own treatment progress. For example, the ‘T2 MoodTracker’ is an app that allows users to self-monitor emotional experiences associated with deployment-related behavioral health issues.

This technology is useful because it allows users to collect real time health data, monitor their own progress, and share this data with their healthcare provider.

Another exciting app is the PTSD Coach that was developed by the Veteran Affairs’s (VA) National Center for PTSD and the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2). When used with professional medical treatment, apps such as PTSD Coach provide a tool that can help users manage and treat symptoms as well as improve their quality of life. These apps, and others, can
be downloaded here (http://t2health.org/apps).

As technology evolves, the capabilities of smartphones do so as well. The latest two-way communication function offered on smartphones brings new opportunities for telemental health. T2 is currently conducting research that examines how smartphones with two-way videocapability can be used to deliver telehealth services.

At this stage, T2 is asking how servicemembers think and feel about using this technology by asking them to test the technology in a non-clinical, usability lab setting. Ultimately, T2’s goal is to evaluate effectiveness of this technology and provide ways to use new technology to benefit as many service members and veterans as possible.

The advancements made in smartphones have been extremely beneficial for behavioral health purposes by making resources available 24/7 and allowing users to take an active part in their own behavioral health care. These benefits, along with the exciting advancements of mobile
technology, will continue to revolutionize how behavioral health care is conducted.

Dr. David Luxton is a Research Psychologist and Program Manager at the National Center for
Telehealth and Technology (T2).