Dr. Julia E. Hoffman, National Center for Telehealth & Technology clinical psychologist on May 17, 2011
As has happened in every era, service members are returning from deployments with combat wounds that affect their mental and physical health. The impact of these problems goes far beyond the service members themselves. Deployment-related mental, behavioral and physical health problems can lead to challenges in military families and communities that last for months or even years. The good news is that there are a variety of treatments that work for post-deployment challenges, and these effective treatments are offered across the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) treatment facilities.
However, many service members and families who need treatment will never seek care for a number of reasons like logistical problems getting to treatment because of location, transportation options, work schedules, etc. Others fear the negative perception of seeking help for psychological health concerns as a sign of weakness, and some don’t even realize that treatment would be helpful because they’re trained that reintegration stress is normal.
At National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) we’ve been working on solutions to the problem of getting care to service members where and when they need it most. Our focus is on using technology in innovative ways to address concerns such as post-traumatic stress, depression, or traumatic brain injuries. One way we’ve found is through the use of mobile phone applications for mental health, like PTSD Coach and T2 Mood Tracker. Most people who carry smart phones have them within reach and turned on at all times, so the goal of developing these apps is to provide education, skills training, self-assessment and support to service members immediately via their mobile phone.
Mobile Apps Available:
- PTSD Coach: T2 collaborated with the VA’s National Center for PTSD to create PTSD Coach. This mobile app provides users with information on post-traumatic stress disorder, a self-assessment, support resources and tools to help manage stress symptoms. Tools based on evidence-based treatment range from relaxation skills and positive self-talk to anger management and other common self-help strategies. You can customize tools based on your preferences and can integrate your own contacts, photos and music. Download the app for free from iTunes App Store. A version for Android users is expected to be available later this Spring. For more on this mobile app, click here.
- T2 Mood Tracker: This self-assessment app monitors various aspects of your mood over time. Users select what areas they would like to track, and then use simple graphical scales to indicate how they feel. You can also add your own scales to monitor problems that are completely individualized, and enter notes about what’s going on in your environment to help explain mood changes. Download the app for free from iTunes App Store or from Android. For more on this mobile app, click here.
If you’re not sure if treatment is necessary, use these apps to anonymously check your well-being, and then seek routine care if necessary. Even if you’re already in treatment, these apps provide ways to measure stress and offer coping strategies between sessions—when real life happens.
More mobile apps are coming out for service members, veterans, families and providers—stay tuned for Breathe2Relax!
For additional information and resources, visit the DCoE Mental Health Awareness Month page. Learn more about T2 at t2health.dcoe.mil.