December 2, 2014

Depression is a very common problem that affects one in four people at some point in their lives. It – and other mental health disorders – are as old as the hills and have been experienced by countless people over the centuries and even immortalised in books. What is different about today’s patients, however, is that they can use computer and iPhone technology to help them fight their illness.

Special digital applications for mobile phones can be used to help people dealing with mental health issues. These new tech apps are varied and include an app called SAM (Self-help for anxiety management), a programme with tips on how to manage anxiety, Healthy Happy, an app that reveals the impact of the person’s lifestyle on their well-being (it includes a virtual coach to give advice to help them make better choices), and Five Ways to Well-Being, an app to set new healthy activities and keep a progress record.

There are also digital apps to tackle phobias, like Phobia Free, an app that uses computer games featuring the feared object or animal to help the phobic person overcome their feelings.

The Buddy app allows patients to keep a check on their emotions and behaviours and to connect with their Mental Health Service providers when they aren’t in clinic, meaning that people in need of more support can be monitored closely.

If you use technology to combat your mental illness, you can even have your own Mental Elf in the phone application, The Mental Elf! He can help you stay up to date with all the latest mental health research.

The NHS have embraced digital technology wholeheartedly. Mental Health apps are listed in their very own health apps library and they are rolling out the technology across the health service in a variety of ways, including:

Introducing the NHS kitemark for smartphone apps so patients can be assured their mental health apps are good quality.

Digital GP records that the patient has access to and can comment in, providing a fairer and more open doctor-patient relationship.

Digital care records can be sent to different departments by 2018 – with the patient’s permission – so that all the medical professionals involved in the patient’s care are kept informed of his or her different treatments.

Introduction of new TeleHealth applications across the NHS – including teleconsultation (consulting with the doctor via skype), telediagnostics and online support from your healthcare professional.

Nick McCoy


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