- The mental health field including psychiatry and psychology could benefit greatly from telehealth technologies and mobile health applications. For instance, patients who have been diagnosed with depression or an anxiety disorder may need to be able to communicate with their psychiatrist at a moment’s notice, which is why telemedicine services could prove useful in the mental health field.
Mobile health apps could also prove useful among patients with depression or other psychological affliction. For example, mobile applications developers from the University of Missouri, Missouri University of Science and Technology and the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation created an app called MoodTrek, which allows patients to track their mood and symptoms as well as share the information with a mental health professional, according to a press release.
“Some patients keep a mood diary during their treatment, which can be helpful in assessing their well-being,” Ganesh Gopalakrishna, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the MU School of Medicine and a psychiatrist at MU Health Care, said in a public statement. “But I thought that there must be a better way to record moods and activity. That led to the development of the MoodTrek™ app, which allows patients to log their moods, sleep patterns and activity levels between appointments. People tend to forget what their moods were like just a few days ago, but through this app, I can now see that data and can use it to provide the best care possible.”
The MoodTrek app also offers patients a method for determining how they’re feeling on a regular basis. Additionally, professionals working in the mental health field can use mobile health applications to see their patients’ physical activity levels and the amount of sleep they’ve gotten.
This particular application allows users to record their mood on a scale of one to five based on smiley face icons, the press release stated. The MoodTrek app can be used with a Fitbit fitness tracking device to incorporate both their mood, exercise levels, and amount of sleep all into one platform. These data points can then be shared with a healthcare provider.
Additionally, healthcare providers who utilize Cerner electronic patient record systems will be able to instantly upload the information from the MoodTrek app directly into a patient’s EHR platform. Patients can bring a more formalized report of their moods, physical activity levels, and sleep performance when visiting their psychiatrist or other mental health professional.
“I update my mood at least once a day,” Kody Ihnat, a mathematics and physics student at the University of Missouri who struggles with depression, told the MoodTrek app developers. “It forces you to take time for self-analysis and really reflect to find out why you're feeling the way you do… My family is very much comforted by the fact that I have something in my pocket that is looking out for me and allows me to be in touch with my doctor.”
Another useful feature of this particular mobile health application is its journal-writing capability. Users are able to capture notes about their day-to-day emotions and share it with experts working in the mental health field. One imperative function that the MoodTrek application has is a button for reaching the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“It’s helping you help yourself and helping the doctor help you,” Ihnat concluded. “I’ve certainly enjoyed using it, and I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my mood and mental state.”
The mental health field has grown substantially over the last century and is now able to provide more effective treatment for depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a multitude of other ailments. As time goes on, mobile health applications and telehealth technology will begin to play a large role in tracking and improving services offered in the mental health field.