My Journey

My Journey: Android (free)

Developer Website: http://www.sabp.nhs.uk/eiip/app

Millennials, and even a lot of older adults, spend a lot of time with their phones. It’s one of the main reasons that I think smartphones will eventually become the second most important adjunct to therapy (or the second most important adjunct to pills, depending on your point of view). It’s also the reason I’m coming back to this exercise after settling in after the big move. One reason for this is the easy availability of these devices as a reference or worksheet. There are a growing number of tools that are useful as references, or which can even offer immediate feedback about what someone is experiencing.

This last task is what apps like LifeArmor and My Journey are designed for. My Journey is an app designed by Early Intervention in Psychosis service, a project of England’s National Health Service. I was really intrigued by an app designed for individuals with psychotic disorders – a high need group that does not have the broad range of support apps or online resources that other issues may have. The app is designed to offer education, in-the-moment assessment, and tips for individuals who are experiencing problems with mental health. It offers a few different tools for people to use, including a mood and symptom screener, a medication chart, activity reminders, a jargon reference, a short list of support websites, and a place for emergency numbers.

The first three tools are helpful organizers. They are nice because three different types of important information are at your fingertips. The medication chart is utilized by adding a medicine and a number of times per day that you are supposed to use it. There is a weekly chart for each medication; you tap it repeatedly each time you take the medicine for that day, and it cycles back to 0 so you can reuse that week. You can put in as many emergency contact numbers as you would like, and dial them directly from the app. The reminders can be anything; you can add them from the bottom of any question, such as reminding yourself to get out when reviewing a question about isolation.

The final tool is a list of symptoms. The screener asks about some general mental health symptoms. I really like the list they chose and the way they are presented. Symptoms are not tied to any particular disorder or label. Examples include:

  1. Do you find it hard to relax?
  2. Are you worried about going out?
  3. Have you been spending more time alone?
  4. Are your friends or family worried about you?
  5. Have you had more arguments with friends or family?
  6. Have you felt that people are watching you?

Each of these questions is answered by dragging from a thumbnail photo you choose to a “yes” or “no” answer. If you answer yes, you are asked to rate the strength of this change from 0 to 10. The app asks you so submit a rating, but there is no way to access this data once it is “submitted.” This is one of the places where the app starts to break down, at least for me; I’m used to clients having these tools to use as a sort of journal. One nice thing about many apps that feature this type of screen is the ability to review how things change over time. You could do that with this app, but you would have to take notes elsewhere.

On the flip side, that also means that this app doesn’t keep much data that a client would want to actively hide. The only thing that would possibly be private is the list of emergency numbers, which would potentially include a therapist, a suicide hotline, or other material that might be better off private. There is no password or security in the app, so if you are using this you will want to be able to discuss security for phone or tablet.

The UI is clean and very easy to follow, something with which Android is sometimes still playing catch-up (at the same time, the price point of many Android phones makes them more accessible than their iOS counterparts). The language within the app is very easy to understand. As I noted, it would be nice if there was an option that would allow us to keep a log of data, so that I could for example ask clients to answer these questions every few days to get a good measure of a client’s experiences or their responses to daily stressors. I like the open nature of the reminders; I could use that function to remind about medication, activities, journaling, or other weekly assignments. Some of the website links go to pages that do not exist. Note that since this is an app that is localized to the UK, the reference websites may be UK-centric and the “emergency services” listing will not be of use outside the UK.

In general, this app contains a lot of material that I might like a client to have early in their treatment. However, a lot of the information is less detailed than some similar apps. Many of the tips are helpful but may not be detailed enough for a client to easily use. The symptom checklist is well-done, but the inability to keep data may limit the usefulness of it.

One odd note: the Google Play website indicates that the app is not compatible with any of my devices (two smartphones and a Nexus 7). This could be a localization issue. I sideloaded the app on my phone and had no trouble using it.

Ratings:

Content: 3.5/5 -it could be helpful to integrate medications with reminders to cut out a step. Electronic reminders are likely an excellent way to increase compliance. The symptoms screener would be much more useful in many cases if it could keep some data. A few bugs such as broken websites. It is one of a very few apps I have seen designed to help individuals with psychotic disorders, which is exceptional.

User Interface: 4.5/5 – Easy to navigate, easy to use.

** Disclaimer: While some of these apps may be helpful to you, NOTHING that I review is a replacement for therapy services from a qualified, licensed psychotherapist. If you are reading this because you or someone you care for needs it for mental health reasons, get them live help ASAP. Also, if you haven’t yet, read A Few Words on Security, which contains tips on keeping your and your client’s smartphone data safe from unwanted eyes.