Why therapy is a dirty word but mobile therapy is not
The need for scalable delivery of mental health care is now a major public health priority. For the 20 percent of Americans who suffer from a mental illness there are significant barriers to accessing quality mental health care and stigma continues to shroud seeing a “shrink”. Current models of care delivery are unlikely to ever meet the enormous need for psychological services.
The emergence of mobile applications (apps) for mental health identification and treatment is potentially game changing. Apps can deliver consistent, evidence-based, and responsive treatments to individuals with unprecedented privacy, convenience and affordability. An example of this is Recovery Record, the first commercially available smartphone app developed for eating disorders - which have the highest rates of morbidity and mortality among mental health conditions and with high rates of psychiatric and medical hospitalizations.
Over 500,000 individuals crossing age and diagnostic boundaries have used recovery Record. Pilot data suggest that Recovery Record cuts through social stigma - 33% of users have never having told anyone about their condition. Using Recovery Record alone is associated with clinically significant symptom reduction for a proportion of users. When used alongside in-person treatment, the app can provide visibility into patient symptom patterns, augment individual-provider communication, and deliver discrete, targeted interventions when out of session. At a healthcare service level, organizational dashboards support relapse prevention by helping identify individuals who might be at risk and making follow-up convenient and natural.