Mobile technologies offer potentially critical ways of delivering mental health support to those experiencing war, ethnic conflict, and human-caused and natural disasters. Research on Internet interventions suggests that effective mobile mental health technologies can be developed, and there are early indications that they will be acceptable to war and disaster survivors, and prove capable of greatly increasing the reach of mental health services. Promising mhealth interventions include video teleconferencing, text messaging, and smartphone-based applications. In addition, a variety of social media platforms has been used during and immediately after disasters to increase agility in responding, and strengthen community and individual resilience. Globally, PTSD Coach has been downloaded over 243,000 times in 96 countries, and together with large-scale use of social media for communication during disasters, suggests the potential for reach of app technology. In addition to enabling improved self-management of post-trauma problems, mobile phone interventions can also enhance delivery of face-to-face care by mental health providers and increase the effectiveness of peer helpers and mutual aid organizations. More research is needed to establish the efficacy of mhealth interventions for those affected by war and disaster. Research should also focus on the identification of active elements and core processes of change, determination of effective ways of increasing adoption and engagement, and explore ways of combining the various capabilities of mobile technologies to maximize their impact.
Authors: Josef I. Ruzek, Eric Kuhn, Beth K. Jaworski, Jason E. Owen, Kelly M. Ramsey
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