‘My Journey’ phone app for mental health patients
By James Watkins
December 04, 2012
MENTAL health patients in Surrey are testing new mobile phone technology designed to help manage their condition.
Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SABP) has developed a new programme for smartphones, called ‘My Journey’, which has been tailored to be used by those who have psychosis.
It will include information about a patient’s prescribed medication – with a monitor to help people keep an eye on their usage – as well as reminders for appointments. Contact details for further advice, including numbers for emergency services, are also available.
The application was designed and developed by staff who use the trust’s Early Intervention in Psychosis Service (EIPS), which works with 14 to 35-year-olds who are within the first three years of dealing with their condition.
Joanna Bowe, from SABP, explained that users of the app had to agree with standard terms and conditions, which included the patient confirming that the service did not replace official clinical advice.
“Where someone is sitting at home feeling really worried about how they are feeling, but not knowing what to do about it, we hope the app will point them in the right direction,” Mrs Bowe said.
Mrs Bowe said the app could be used to work through a series of questions, with one example being whether a person’s appetite had changed.
“If they say yes or no, they then go to a screen to rate that question,” Mrs Bowe said.
“Depending on how they rate each question, they get flashed up with health tips and advice.
“So for example, using the appetite question, they would get a message flash up saying that many people experience a change in appetite or sleeping patterns, and then it gives quick fix advice.
“Depending on how many high ratings they receive through the questions, they would then be signposted to contact the appropriate services. It is about getting the balance of giving reassurance and good advice on what to do.”
She said that the people who had been testing it at the moment were youngsters using the EIPS who were savvy with smartphones.
“The advice so far has been that the app really helps,” Mrs Bowe said.
“People trialling it say they might have got in contact with the services sooner if they were able to use an app like this.
“The feedback so far is really positive. It is all about getting people to get in contact with us sooner, and not to worry, but to know there are lots of people like them.”
A decision is yet to be made whether the app will be available for free or at a cost.
Sarah Amani, one of the EIPS team leaders and youth mental health lead for NHS South of England (East), said: “Mobile applications have a huge potential to deliver effective and inexpensive tools which complement existing services and can be personalised to the individual.
“This app will offer young people, who already use mobile phones for a significant part of their lives, a way to seamlessly integrate health improvement into their day-to-day mobile phone use.”
The technology was funded through a grant of £8,000 from the Mary Seacole Leadership Award. It is hoped that it will be available for download from the Google Play online shop for Android smartphones next year.
update 12-19-13: anyone know more about this app?