“With Suicide Rates on Rise, Can Therapy Apps Help?” AND More on Best 5 Friday Reads

Hello and welcome to another edition of Best 5 Reads. Lets begin!

1) With Suicide Rates on Rise, Can Therapy Apps Help?

Dozens of technology companies have created apps and websites that market text, voice or video chat therapy for people seeking help with spells of depression, anxiety or other mental anguish. Other apps expand beyond therapy with tips and advice on meditation and mindfulness.

“The potential is there,” said psychiatrist John Torous, who directs the digital psychiatry division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. “The question is, what actually works? … This is a problem that’s been around since humanity has been around. In a matter of months, we are going to write some code, put it on a phone app and eradicate suicide?”

2) Helping to End Addiction Over the Long-term The Research Plan for the NIH HEAL Initiative

Extraordinary focus by all segments of society is required to respond to the nation’s opioid crisis. Now is the time to channel the efforts of the scientific community to deliver effective—and sustainable—solutions to this formidable public health challenge. Recognizing this opportunity, Congress added $500 million to the base appropriation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), starting in fiscal year 2018. The NIH will invest these much-needed resources to support science that advances national priorities for addiction and pain research with a bold new trans-NIH initiative called Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL). In this Viewpoint, we outline the initial components of this cross-cutting, interdisciplinary program. More than 25 million US adults are affected by daily pain.

More than 2 million individuals in the United States have an opioid use disorder (OUD), most starting with opioid analgesics prescribed to them or procured from diverted medications, but once addicted, often shifting to illicit heroin or synthetic opioids. The scope of this crisis is staggering, but scientific advances offer strategies that can help the nation overcome it.

3) Psychotic Experiences Associated With Increased Risk for Eating Disorders in Adolescents

These data suggest the need for targeted interventions in children with psychotic experiences in order to prevent disordered eating behaviors in later adolescence. Future research is necessary to further elucidate the association between psychosis and disordered eating in order to improve the therapeutic interventions available for children with these risks.

4) Fully Automated Avatar Therapist Successfully Treats Phobia

The first study to use fully automated virtual reality therapy guided by an avatar therapist provides proof of concept for how some psychological therapies may be delivered in the future.

5) Governments and Psychiatric Beds

I read a paper yesterday on psychiatric bed policy with a focus on OECD nations. The OECD has extensive data collection on their member nations and one of the metrics they collect is the number of psychiatric beds per 1,000 inhabitants. I have demonstrated some of this data before. For the purpose of this post I downloaded it to create the two graphs above that were used in the paper. One of the authors main points was transinstitutionalization – in this case sending people with serious mental illnesses to jails rather than psychiatric hospitals. They demonstrate the rough inverse correlation between psychiatric beds and the rate of incarceration. Throughout my career available psychiatric beds has always been a problem. It has been a favorite topic on this blog. I was interested in whether or not this group of authors had anything new to say.

Thank you for your time and have a nicr weekend!

Best Regards,


7 thoughts on ““With Suicide Rates on Rise, Can Therapy Apps Help?” AND More on Best 5 Friday Reads

  1. I love this post, and for good reason! I have terrible social anxiety. I fear meeting new people and being in new settings. Add talking about my deepest thoughts, call me petrified! I began looking into online therapy because it seemed the safest option for me. I found BetterHelp and realized that not only was it ethical and held up to the standards of traditional in-person counseling. I was matched with a counselor and she was wonderful. We spoke almost daily for 2 months. We had scheduled times for live-chats and video chat sessions. I felt safe and comfortable in my own home, I was able to get to know her through messaging daily which made me feel open to talk with her. And in 2 months of intense talk-therapy, I left feeling like a new person. I have tools to work through anxiety and depression and found a new way to prioritize my life. I am so thankful technology is catching up with the needs of people, especially people like me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you MerQueen for stopping by. And thank you for sharing your story on how Telepsychiatry service helped you control your condition.

      You mentioned all the positives of using this app. I am curious, Did you encounter any negatives on using this service?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would say the only downside to the app was the counselors were not allowed to officially diagnose their clients because it was not a session done in person. Obviously no medication is prescribed either if someone needed it. However, I feel that if my counselor found me to need an official diagnosis for prescribed medication, she would have helped me find a professional in my area. It was easy to use. There are even webinars that I could attend on various topics!

        Liked by 1 person

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