Wellness on the Go’ There’s an App for That!

 

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Posted October 8, 2014 by

 
Our Review
 
 
Hello everyone! I am so excited to be here sharing with you on this blog about mobile applications (apps) for mental health. I am always on the lookout for ways to help others access technology to add to their repertoire of coping skills for those times when they are not able to readily access the healthcare system. Due to the ongoing issues with access to care for individuals with mental illness, it is important that we as practitioners become familiar with the vast amount of technology out there.

Mobile technology, in the form of these apps, are always with the person to give reminders of their expressed goals and values. They provide inspiration in a community or clinician-client forum, teach health lifestyle choices to avoid real losses due to poor choices, apply social influence by including peers in the motivational aspect, “data mining” for other useful resources, social networking with like-minded and similarly-struggling peers, and utilize concepts of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to enhance clinician support (Morris, 2012).

I will be sharing mobile applications (apps) which I have searched for and reviewed using the six dimensions listed below from Maheu, Pulier, & Roy (2013). A critical component of sharing, and especially recommending, technology, in this case, mobile apps, is making sure the potential user is able to utilize the app safely, securely, confidently and effectively for their specific needs. When a user downloads and uses an app, the expectation is that it was already researched and found to be evidence-based and clinically appropriate. Another important aspect of reviewing and recommending mobile apps through this blog is ensuring I am able to help the potential user(s) be able to identify what are self-help apps, clinical apps (sharing personal health information), and social apps (support-group-type). The apps I share here can be found on Android smartphones and/or iPhones, as well as personal tablets of the same brands. I look forward to giving you my insight into the amazing mobile apps I have enjoyed finding for you, and to seeing how you feel about them with your ratings and comments on the blog. Also, I encourage sharing of apps you may have come across and allowing me to help you research them based on the dimensions here (summarized here for ease of reading):

 

Does the app’s set of features adequately cover the range of tasks required to satisfy an actual need?

 

Does the app “meet workflow requirements and ultimately save time for the user?” Is the app free from “interface clutter, suboptimal eye-thumb coordination, steep learning curve, battery draining of the host device, etc.”?

 

Can the “app on one device share data with other apps and/or other devices?” Can the app “accept security assurances generated by some other app?”

 

Does the app have the following capabilities to maintain security- “privacy, not losing data, not being diverted, not being altered by an unauthorized agent, making sure there is no an impersonator communicating with the client/clinician”? Does the app meet HIPAA and FCC security requirements?

 

Does scientific evidence support the app itself rather than just the concept upon which the app is based?

 

Does the app accomplish a defined task without crashes, error messages, or complications? Does it perform consistently over time?

 

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Does the app’s set of features adequately cover the range of tasks required to satisfy an actual need?
Does the app “meet workflow requirements and ultimately save time for the user?” Is the app free from “interface clutter, suboptimal eye-thumb coordination, steep learning curve, battery draining of the host device, etc.”?
Can the “app on one device share data with other apps and/or other devices?” Can the app “accept security assurances generated by some other app?”
Does the app have the following capabilities to maintain security- “privacy, not losing data, not being diverted, not being altered by an unauthorized agent, making sure there is no an impersonator communicating with the client/clinician”? Does the app meet HIPAA and FCC security requirements?
Does scientific evidence support the app itself rather than just the concept upon which the app is based?
Does the app accomplish a defined task without crashes, error messages, or complications? Does it perform consistently over time?

About the Author

Karen Wall, MA, RN-BC, BSN
Ms. Wall is a Psychiatric Registered Nurse with the VA at Palo Alto. Her duties include educating nurses, clinicians, and patients about technology to assist with mental health.

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