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Ottawa, June 5 (Canadian-Media): According to a recent study by mHealth published by Psychiatric Services it was revealed that compared to an in-person group therapy, mobile health interventions were as effective in treating patients with serious mental illness, media reports said.
“The mHealth intervention showed superior patient engagement and produced patient satisfaction and clinical and recovery outcomes that were comparable to those from a widely used clinic-based group intervention for illness management,” the authors of the study wrote.
The study included 163 patients, most of which were from a racial minority group, with serious long-term mental illnesses, including schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and depressive disorder.
Participants were randomly assigned to the mobile health intervention group, called FOCUS or to the traditional clinic-based group intervention, called the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP),
Patients in the FOCUS group reportedly received a smartphone-delivered intervention that was designed for people with serious mental illnesses.
The technology is made up of an app, a clinician dashboard, and support from an mobile health specialist, which allows patients to access videos, audio clips, or written materials at any time of the day.
The users are prompted by the system to take daily assessments, which are relayed to the specialist.
Researchers found only 58 percent of patients in the traditional clinic-based intervention group stayed with the program, compared to 90 percent of participants that received their care through smartphones.
With the emerging world of apps, ranging from screening tools to coaching platforms, mental health platforms have become increasingly popular.
Pear Therapeutics, a digital therapeutics company with several platforms dedicated to treating mental illnesses is another notable company.
In March, Pear inked a deal with Novartis, a pharma company, to collaborate together to develop two digital therapeutics, including one for schizophrenia.
The company also has a platform for treating addiction.
“We’ve had a lot of experience and a lot of engagement with MS patients and clinicians treating MS patients,” Joris Van Dam, head of digital therapeutics at Novartis, told MobiHealthNews. “And what we’ve heard from them is over and above the symptoms they experience from MS itself, they’re really suffering from a mental health burden...We’re very excited about exploring a future where we can treat our patients with the best of drugs and the best of digital and we think that Pear Therapeutics is certainly among the best of digital today.”
Joris Van Dam/Courtesy of Novartis.com
Recently a mental health AI platform, Woebot was launched in February.
The app is designed to help users talk about their anxiety or depression and give them ways of coping.
“We have a huge issue of access [to mental health specialists], particularly globally,” Dr. Alison Darcy, CEO and founder of Woebot, told MobiHealthNews. “Woebot was created to be a fun and engaging way to talk about your mental health and look after mental health. It is drawn from cognitive behavioral therapy.”
“It can talk them through their thinking and helping them rewrite those thoughts,” Darcy said. “Up until now that practice hasn’t been available outside the [therapists’ office].”
Users can access the messaging function on the app — just like using Google Hangouts or Apple's iMessage, but instead of a person at the other end of the messages,
it's an artificial intelligence programmed to help users talk through their mental health using cognitive behavioral therapy principles.