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mHealth App Addresses Behavioral Health Issues in Children

A Michigan university has received grant funding to develop an mHealth app that helps parents in addressing behavioral health issues in children

Wayne State University received over $500k to develop an mHealth parenting app

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

- The National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a four-year $533,151 grant to Wayne State University to develop an mHealth parenting app for addressing disruptive behavioral health disorders.

The newly funded grant, “Pediatric Motivational mHealth Parent Training for Child Disruptive Behaviors,” aims to develop technology-based solutions that can be accessed in primary care facilities and online.

A team led by Kathleen McGoron, PhD, assistant professor of research in the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute at Wayne State University, will develop an mHealth system called the Parenting Young Children Check-up.

This system is intended to be used in healthcare settings and will assess children for disruptive behavior problems, provide a motivational intervention, and connect parents with a training website.

“Young children with disruptive behavior problems often require specialized parenting skills in order to flourish,” said McGoron. “While these skills can be effectively taught in face-to-face parent-training programs, most families in need of such services do not receive them due to lack of access or desire.”

Other organizations have also invested in projects that use mHealth apps for healthcare interventions that connect caregivers, providers, and families to effectively treat and manage an array of behavioral health conditions.

Another app called BiAffect, which was developed out of the University of Illinois, was awarded $200,000 for development and expects to launch in the App Store. BiAffect was recognized in the Mood Challenge under Apple’s ResearchKit because it could spot manic and depressive episodes.

A research team from Mount Sinai Hospital found that an mHealth was effective in lowering symptoms for patients with depression. Through an app-hosted therapy program that promoted cognitive plasticity, the team was able to lower symptoms by 40 percent.

"We strongly believed in the potential of this technology based on early trials at Mount Sinai, and are pleased with our commercial partnership with Click Therapeutics.,” said Erik Lium, PhD, Senior Vice President at Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP). “We look forward to the development of this technology into a digital therapeutic that will be used to treat a major disease.”

Wayne State hopes the increased access of their mHealth parenting app will strengthen the relationships between parents and children with behavioral disorders.

“If parents use this training program and adopt the skills the program teaches, we think it will be beneficial to them and their children by reducing stress, enhancing parent-child relationships, and leading children to gain skills that will help in social situations and school,” McGoron said.

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