ATAC of DRNJ : New Smartphone Apps Help Troops and Vets with PTSD
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New Smartphone Apps Help Troops and Vets with PTSD

A half-dozen apps with names like “T2 MoodTracker,” ‘’PTSD Coach” and “Breathe2Relax” have been developed by the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department, but not to diagnose illness or replace psychiatric counseling. Rather, the apps offer at-your-fingertips information about what the military calls “invisible wounds” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and techniques for managing the symptoms.

The newest, released in May, was a joint Pentagon-VA effort — PTSD Coach. It helps self-assess symptoms, gives step-by-step instructions in muscle relaxation and breathing, helps users create a phone list of people to call when they need support and helps vets contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in an emergency.

There’s also an app for health care providers that includes definitions, causes and severity ratings for mild traumatic brain injury — or concussions — suffered by so many troops from roadside bombs and other explosions. Another for doctors treating PTSD is expected in the coming months. Officials hope the apps for troops, vets and their families will encourage more people to get professional help and will be used by others to supplement professional therapy.

In a vast and unprecedented wartime effort that has struggled to keep up with troop needs, the government in recent years has increased mental health screening, hired more psychiatric staff, sent mental health survey teams directly to the battlefields, launched new research and started or bolstered myriad programs from suicide prevention to resilience training to family counseling. They’ve promoted the efforts with booklets, boot camp training, interactive websites, social media, call-in phone lines and more.

Because of the anonymity, there is little feedback on the program that started last summer with MoodTracker. But officials said they plan to find volunteers in the future to help with a study on the program’s effectiveness. For now, what’s known is that MoodTracker was downloaded about 17,000 times since it was introduced. Since PTSD Coach was released in May, it has been downloaded about 11,000 times in 37 countries, including Mexico, Latvia and Japan.

Although the app is particularly tailored to the needs of active-duty troops and veterans, some users may also be PTSD sufferers with no military background. Officials believe it’s likely some are civilians who’ve had other types of trauma, such as from physical or sexual assaults, car accidents or natural disasters.

For the entire article see: Troops, Vets Get Smartphone Help

 

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