VAntage Point: Mobile mental health apps for Veterans aim to reduce suicide risk

“VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System staff are working to reach more Veterans using mobile mental health apps. VA’s National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) received funding to roll out a project seeking to increase Veterans’ access to mobile apps to improve mental health coping and reduce suicide risk…”

Introduced over 900 Veterans to the app

“The project’s earliest stages began at the end of 2019, prior to the pandemic. After Pittsburgh became a participating site, the national center hosted a virtual site visit last October with a project goal of training at least 20 VA staff members per site. Pittsburgh alone trained 58 new mHealth ambassadors.”

“The project challenged ambassadors to introduce and use mobile mental health apps with 25 Veterans or family members per year, with an initial three-month target of about six Veterans per ambassador.”

“We far exceeded that goal. During the three-month track period, 35 of the 58 mHealth ambassadors reached about 16 Veterans and in total, our ambassadors introduced apps to 928 Veterans…”

COVID Coach app now very important

“Some apps can only be used by licensed clinicians, but there are a range of others such as self-care apps, including mindfulness and PTSD apps. One recently developed is the COVID Coach App, designed specifically for people stressing about the pandemic.”

“’COVID enhanced this project,’ said Dordal. ‘Now because of the lack of face to face, some people aren’t seeing their doctors as much. If COVID weren’t here, the imperative, the motivation to use it would not be as big. When COVID hit, these tools became that much more important. It would have been successful because it’s a good product, but COVID helped it because we needed it more.’”

“Dordal was clear the apps are a supplement to and not a replacement for professional care. Some apps serve as companions to therapy. A Veteran might see a cognitive behavioral therapist, for example, and use an app daily to help work on developing better sleep habits…” Read the full article here.

Source: Mobile mental health apps for Veterans aim to reduce suicide risk — By Hope Nelson, April 30, 2021. VAntage Point.

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