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An interesting and recently released article that one can stumble upon regarding mental illness is “Phone app effectively treats mental illness, study shows” by Bobbi Nodell. The news article discusses how Focus, a mobile app program that was designed as clinical intervention for those with crucial mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, provided satisfactory results, with “90% of those assigned to the smartphone app using it at least once, while 58% of those assigned to the clinic treatment went to at least one group therapy session” (Nodell, 2018). The study specified that the majority of the disorders participants had included schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder, and it also provided statistics that showed its sample wasn’t that of a representative population, with the majority of participants being older African-American males (Nodell, 2018). What is worrisome about the study is that although it clearly states that the mobile app assists those with mental disabilities by “addressing auditory hallucinations, mood problems, sleep, social-functioning problems, and medication use,” it doesn’t necessarily explain how the app achieves these results, or accomplishes these tasks (Nodell, 2018). The study compares the service of the mobile app with the service of clinics that help the mentally ill, and attempts to make claims through statistical evidence that the mobile app can be more beneficial; but, again, it doesn’t even show how these two services compare, and in what ways the clinics are lacking.
Overall, the news article provides an ambiguous and biased overview of a study that actually found results for both the clinical intervention and mobile app intervention to be the same; in fact, the aim of the study the news article reviewed wasn’t to undermine the services of clinics, but rather, to show that the mobile app has a high potential in possibly helping those that are mentally ill. Therefore, the implications made in the news article are made on false grounds. Moreover, it’s a questionable matter as to how the researchers conducting this study designed a mobile application that addressed all major mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Furthermore, the study was only for a matter of three months, which will provide less reliable results than if a longitudinal study was conduct over an extended period, or at least an archival study were previous mental patients were examined. Either way, neither the news article, or the study they based their article on, is too reliable to state that there is a correlational relationship between a well-designed mobile app and improving mental illness state.
In a study conducted a year ago, researchers found that e-Health interventions, such as the mobile app discussed in the section above, “suggest a small positive effect at both post-intervention and follow-up” (Stratton, et al., 2017). Noticing the rising trend in the development and usage of e-Health interventions, the researchers wanted to truly see if their effects and benefits can even be comparable to that of clinics and rehabilitation centers. The researchers conducted systematic searches “for relevant articles published from 1975 until November 17, 2016,” and “extracted means and standard deviations from published reports, comparing the differences in effect sizes in standardized mental health outcomes” (Stratton, et al., 2017). Not only did the researchers complete a thorough archival research, but they also had 23 controlled trials of e-Health interventions.
Ultimately, the researchers found that e-Health interventions could indeed have beneficial effects for a person with mental illness, but these benefits heavily rely on the person’s frequency in using the mobile app, understanding the instructions of the app, and being able to independently use the app. Moreover, the researchers stated that due to the lack of evidence, for the best outcomes to be achieved in cases of mental illnesses, the most effective intervention methods should be sought out, which statistically and theoretically, are not e-Health intervention systems.
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