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Tag: severe mental illness

Immersive VR Headsets to Improve Mental Health Services

Article Excerpt: Research finds that therapy through VR headsets can achieve better mental health outcomes up to two to three times faster than traditional treatments. Along with cutting NHS wait times, these VR (virtual reality) headsets can also improve access to services and reduce the severity of some mental health condition symptoms.

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Article Source: Open Access Government


Mental Health Public Policy Discussed in Latest Heads up Dartmouth Health Webinar

Article Excerpt: This segment features Will Torrey, MD, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Health, Holly A. Stevens, Esq., Director of Public Policy, National Alliance on Mental Health, New Hampshire chapter (NAMI NH), and Matthew Houde, JD, Vice President of Government Relations, Dartmouth Health. Together, they discuss the current state of the mental health system in New Hampshire and the country, and areas of federal and state public policy that can be improved. Torrey said the biggest difficulty facing residents and providers is timely access to high-quality care. “The demand for services, the need for services, just far outstrips the state’s capacity to offer those needed services. If you develop cancer, heart disease or an orthopedic injury, you can get into outpatient or inpatient treatment in a timely manner. But that’s just not true for psychiatric illnesses,” Torrey said

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Article Source: Dartmouth Health News


With Gains and Gaps, Mental Health Care Moves Forward

Article Excerpt: According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, one in four New Hampshire residents is experiencing some form of mental health distress. “This is a regional and national crisis for all children and adults,” said Dr. William Torrey, chief of psychiatry at Dartmouth Health, who has spent 38 years in the field. Demand for inpatient and outpatient care currently “exceeds our capacity at all levels,” Torrey said. More people are seeking care, more are acknowledging mental illness and addiction struggles in themselves and loved ones, and more are advocating for mental health care — which is good. “They see the extreme need for services.”

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Article Source: Union Leader


FOCUS mHealth Intervention for Veterans with Serious Mental Illness in an Outpatient Department of Veterans Affairs Setting: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Usability Study

Buck B, Nguyen J, Porter S, Ben-Zeev D, Reger GM. FOCUS mHealth Intervention for Veterans With Serious Mental Illness in an Outpatient Department of Veterans Affairs Setting: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Usability Study. JMIR Ment Health 2022;9(1):e26049. doi: 10.2196/26049

This study evaluates the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of a mobile health intervention for veterans with serious mental illnesses (SMIs) in a VA outpatient care. Seventeen veterans with SMIs participated in a one-month pilot trial of FOCUS. FOCUS consists of a mobile app, a clinician dashboard, and a mHealth support specialist. The app provides brief self-management interventions based on the user’s responses to an ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Interventions include strategies to cope with auditory hallucinations, mood, sleep, social functioning, and medication use. A mHealth support specialist tracks and gives technical support for participants’ use of FOCUS. The specialist also gives weekly updates to the mental health treatment team on each veteran’s use of FOCUS and reported symptoms and functioning. Researchers collected data on mental health symptoms and functional recovery, as well as qualitative feedback on the acceptability of FOCUS. On average, participants completed 85 EMAs and used FOCUS on 19.29 out of 30 access days. Overall, participants reported the intervention as highly acceptable; 94% would recommend FOCUS to a friend, and 88% felt satisfied. Based on qualitative interviews, participants found FOCUS complements their VA services and suggested possible subgroups to target (i.e., combat veterans). During the pilot, participants reported statistically non-significant improvements in recovery, auditory hallucinations, and quality of life. The study administered surveys to clinicians who had patients participating in FOCUS to assess feasibility and acceptability. Based on this data, clinicians found the mHealth updates useful for informing their care. FOCUS appears to be feasible, acceptable, and useful for veterans with SMIs; future research could examine specific implementation strategies in the VA, as well as replicate the effectiveness of FOCUS with a larger sample.


Group Lifestyle Intervention With Mobile Health for Young Adults With Serious Mental Illness: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Aschbrenner KA, Naslund JA, Gorin AA, Mueser KT, Browne J, Wolfe RS, Xie H, & Bartels SJ. (2022). Group Lifestyle Intervention With Mobile Health for Young Adults With Serious Mental Illness: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.), 73(2), 141–148.

A study tested the effectiveness of PeerFIT, a group lifestyle intervention enhanced with mobile health for young adults with serious mental illness who were overweight or obese. PeerFIT is a 12-month, manualized group lifestyle intervention that includes weight loss and physical activity goals and a curriculum delivered by lifestyle coaches. One hundred fifty participants receiving services in partner community mental health centers were randomly assigned to the PeerFIT intervention or an active control condition (one-on-one basic education coaching and activity tracking). Eligible participants were 18-35 years of age, with serious mental illness and a body mass index at least 25kg/m2. PeerFIT had a 6-month phase of twice-weekly group meetings, followed by a 6-month maintenance phase of weekly exercise sessions. The intervention also used a private Facebook group where participants can access information, post content that support healthy lifestyles, and receive text message reminders and encouragement from the coach. Data was collected on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction, cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and weight loss at 6- and 12-month follow-up. The results showed no significant differences between the PeerFIT and control groups in reduced CVD risk, CRF, or weight loss. Participants in both arms achieved clinically significant CVD risk reduction, weight loss, and CRF between baseline and follow-ups. Although PeerFIT was not superior to one-on-one coaching in achieving reduced CVD risk, mobile Health coaching may be a more scalable innovation than in-person group interventions for young adults in routine mental health care settings.


Are caregivers ready for digital? Caregiver preferences for health technology tools to monitor medication adherence among patients with serious mental illness

Forma F, Chiu K, Shafrin J, Boskovic DH, & Veeranki SP. (2022). Are caregivers ready for digital? Caregiver preferences for health technology tools to monitor medication adherence among patients with serious mental illness. Digital health, 8, 20552076221084472.

This study explored the preferences and willingness-to-pay for digital tools that monitor medication adherence among caregivers of persons with serious mental illness (SMI). Among digital tools, four options were identified: (1) smart pill bottles that records the frequency the bottle is opened or closed; (2) smart pill dispenser that sorts and organizes pills for use; (3) mobile apps; and (4) pills embedded with an ingestible event market (IEM) sensor that signals to a mobile app upon medication ingestion. Researchers administered a web-based survey to 184 caregivers of adult SMI patients recruited through phone, conferences, social media, and referrals. Fifty-seven participants cared for bipolar depression, 61 for major depressive disorder, and 66 for schizophrenia. The survey instrument consists of a discrete choice experiment module that assesses the caregivers’ preferences for adherence monitoring tools. Specifically, the survey includes items to assess source of medication adherence information, medication adherence information accessibility, patients’ report of wellbeing, and caregivers’ monthly out-of-pocket cost for the health technology tool. Results demonstrated that caregivers highly preferred a medical adherence tool using a pill embedded with an IEM sensor and tracking patients’ well-being compared to a non-digital pill organizer. Caregivers were willing to pay on average $255 more per month for this tool than a pill organizer. Findings suggest that caregivers value digital tools that monitor adherence and track their loved ones’ health.


Mental Health Tech: Help Is On the Way

Article Excerpt: Today, mental health tech is having a moment. Hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide cope with mental health concerns. The World Health Organization estimates that 300 million people suffer from depression and another 260 million suffer from anxiety disorders. There have been few breakthroughs in mental health pharmaceuticals in nearly three decades. However, mental health tech is doing a great deal to help sufferers.

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Article Source: The Tech Report


A Telehealth Effort to Treat PTSD and Bipolar Disorder in Rural Areas Showed ‘Huge Gains.’ Now Comes the Hard Part

Article Excerpt: A multiyear effort to pipe big-city mental health providers to rural communities over video accomplished a trifecta of telehealth victories: It reached people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to mental health care; it tackled difficult diagnoses that don’t have simple answers; and it stretched how many people the most skilled providers can treat. Now comes the inevitable question that follows any technology breakthrough: Does it scale?

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Article Source: STAT


Engagement with a digital therapeutic for smoking cessation designed for persons with psychiatric illness fully mediates smoking outcomes in a pilot randomized controlled trial

Browne J, Halverson TF, Vilardaga R, Engagement with a digital therapeutic for smoking cessation designed for persons with psychiatric illness fully mediates smoking outcomes in a pilot randomized controlled trial, Translational Behavioral Medicine, Volume 11, Issue 9, September 2021, Pages 1717–1725,

This study investigated the meditational effect of a digital therapeutic for smoking cessation for adults with psychiatric disorders. Participants were 62 adults with severe mental illness who currently smoked, were adherent to psychiatric treatment, and lived in stable housing. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a tailored smartphone app for persons with severe mental illness (Learn to Quit) or a smartphone app with health information for the general population (NCI QuitGuide). The Learn to Quit app includes 28 modules that provide information, skills, and recommendations for smoking cessation based on acceptance and commitment therapy. The study measured engagement by collecting background data of app utilization, such as number of interactions with app content, amount of time per day of app use, and number of days the app was used. The study also evaluated smoking cessation by reduction in cigarettes per day from baseline to the four-month follow-up. Results showed that number of app interactions fully mediated reduction in cigarettes per day in the Learn to Quit arm, but not in the NCI QuitGuide arm. Minutes per day of app use and number of days used were not significant mediators. These findings indicate that engagement with theory-based content in Learn to Quit functioned as intended.