VA, DoD release new mental health app


The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments launched July 31 a mobile app called PE Coach to assist people undergoing prolonged exposure therapy, a treatment used by both departments to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

The app is available for download on iOS and Android devices and is intended as a tool for service members and veterans between treatment sessions. PE Coach is designed to help patients stick with a treatment plan already underway and, unlike many healthcare apps, is not a self-help tool, says a DoD statement.

The app gives users a central location to track therapy sessions, record sessions, complete therapy assignments and take notes on sessions. The app also offers breathing exercises for better managing anxiety.

Dr. Greg Reger, clinical psychologist at DoD's national center for telehealth and technology's innovative technology applications division, said many patients are more comfortable capturing their feelings in a note on a smartphone than they are writing in a notebook and carrying that notebook with them in public.

Educational features of the app include an explanation of exposure therapy and an explanation of PTSD symptoms.

In April 2011 the two departments launched an app called "PTSD Coach," an educational tool that also helped track symptoms and connect with support. Roger Baker, VA's chief information officer, recently said that the app was "a massive wakeup call" because it was released with few security and privacy considerations.

For more:
- see the DoD press release

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