Title: Mobile apps for mental health
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With the widespread use of smartphones, there is an opportunity for clinicians and researchers to incorporate this technology into mental health treatment. Numerous mental health applications are available for download, but there is a limited research base to support most apps. Also, many apps are self-report and are not focused on providing and/or facilitating treatment.

Here we review 2 apps currently in development. Both use innovative technologies embedded within smartphones to capture objective data on patients to provide timely treatment and relapse prevention.


Mobilyze, an app developed by researchers at Northwestern University, is designed as a multimodal treatment for depression. It uses built-in sensors, such as GPS, ambient light, and recently made calls, in an attempt to predict the patient's moods, emotions, and activities. It has been subject to an initial 8-person pilot study: results indicated that participants were satisfied with the app and both depressive and anxiety symptoms improved. (1)

A machine learning approach is used: users are prompted via messages to describe their locations, activity, social context, and emotional state. The app learns to associate real-world data with those obtained via the sensors. Supplemental messages on the phone, a Web-based behavioral activation intervention, and telephone coaching were also provided as part of the initial study and contributed to the overall symptom reduction. (1) Larger-scale research is being conducted at Northwestern University.

The design of the app shows promise in using passive data collection to treat a potentially debilitating psychiatric condition. Persons with depression often...

Source Citation (MLA 8 th Edition)
Brooks, Larry, and Todd N. Schirmer. "Mobile apps for mental health." Psychiatric Times, Dec. 2014, p. 28H. Academic OneFile, Accessed 26 June 2019.

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