Danya Institute Inc.

Mobile Applications for Behavioral Health

INTRODUCTION
APPLICATIONS TO HELP ON THE JOB
APPLICATIONS FOR SELF-CARE
APPLICATIONS FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
OTHER APPLICATIONS RELEVANT TO THE FIELD

INTRODUCTION

We are pleased to introduce our new series of reviews on mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. We will look at a range of offerings that you can use on the job.  We will also review ones on self-care that help create better habits with diet, exercise, relaxation etc.  Check back to this page regularly as we update it with new reviews.

APPLICATIONS TO HELP ON THE JOB

MedscapeMobile

medscapemobile

MedscapeMobile, from WebMD, is a highly informative and interactive app devoted to clinicians across disciplines in the medical field. The app features an up to date Clinical Disease and Condition Reference of over 4,400 physical and psychiatric diagnoses authored and reviewed by a team of 7,700 physicians and pharmacists. It also features a Drug Reference with over 8,000 drugs equipped with a Drug Interaction Checker that checks for mild to serious contraindications for up to 30 drugs, herbals, and supplements at a time. The app’s Medical Calculators allow clinicians to use formulas, scales, and classifications to help diagnose a number of different illnesses as well as access to dosing calculators for over 600 drugs.

Another feature that many clinicians might be interested in is the access to a number of Continued Medical Education/Continued Education courses to fulfill various licensure requirements. Also, the Formulary Information section allows clinicians to customize their Medscape account with the health plans that they accept from Medscape’s list of over 1,800 insurance plans across the United States. In addition, app users are able to access the latest medical news on practice guidelines, FDA announcements, important journal articles from over 250 publications, conference news, business trends, and financial and malpractice advice.

Still some more additional features include an option for offline access simply by downloading the clinical reference database so that users may browse without internet connection. Also, a medical directory of over 460,000 physicians, pharmacies, and hospitals by name, location, and specialty is also available through the mobile app as well.

This app was rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by users in app stores and was the highest-rated free medical app for healthcare professionals in iTunes and Google Play.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Android, via Google Play
  • Kindle Fire

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Catie Greene, MS, is a pre-doctoral student of Counselor Education at the College of William & Mary

 

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APPLICATIONS FOR SELF-CARE

MoodPanda

moodpanda

MoodPanda is a free mood tracking application for Apple and Android devices created by Jake Greenwood. It is an easy way to rate and track your mood, in order to see if there are any patterns in how your mood changes over time. Users can generate a mood graph for use in therapy or just for their own knowledge. For instance, does your mood worsen every year in the fall? If so, you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder.
To use this app, users rate their mood on a scale of one to ten. Users can rate their mood as often as they like. They also have the option of adding a short text message to describe or explain the reason for their mood. Users’ names and mood ratings appear in a “World Feed” that enables other members of the MoodPanda community to give virtual hugs and to comment.
The program still has some bugs that need to be worked out. This reviewer found that the website froze when the user tried to give a location as part of the “Worldwide Happiness Tracking” function. In addition, the function to keep your mood private wasn’t working at the time of the review. Finally, although the application is free, it does ask the user to donate money. One must donate money to become a “supporter” in order to change one’s panda icon or to put a medal by one’s name.

This app is rated for users age 12 and above.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Android, via Google Play

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Jerilyn Schweitzer is a freelance writer based in Maryland.

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At a boy!

ataboy

At a boy! is an Apple app designed by psychologist and behavioral economist Dan Ariely from Duke University’s Center for Behavioral Economics.  It generates compliments and allows you to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to each one.  Doing so will supposedly allow the app to tailor compliments more to your preferences. It also allows users to submit their own compliments for other users.

While this author would not have her spirits uplifted by compliments delivered in such an impersonal manner, there are some reviewers who report benefitting from it.  In addition, if you have a personal goal to say more affirming things to others in your life, this tool might give you ideas and inspiration.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Simone Fary is an Instructional Design and Technology Specialist at the Danya Institute

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Anti-Stress Quotes

antistressquotesThis simple Apple and Kindle app by Michael Quach delivers a series of inspirational quotes.  Users can select and save their favorite quotes or email them.  This author reviewed the iPad version, which doesn’t have ads. One reviewer did complain about the ads on the iPhone version.

Depending on your tastes, you may find the background colors either cheerful or gaudy.  The quotes themselves are by a nice variety by wise men and women from all over the world.  They provide much food for thought.

While it is not a traditional stress reduction tool, some users’ stress levels will be reduced by taking the time to reflect on higher priorities in life.  In addition, some of the quotes may help put their problems in perspective.

One quote by Toni Morrison used the profanity “@hit”, no other instances of inappropriate language were noted.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Kindle Fire

Cost:

Listed as “Free for a limited time”

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Simone Fary is an Instructional Design and Technology Specialist at the Danya Institute

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Relaxing Sounds

relaxingsounds

This Apple and Kindle app is one of many available that provide some sort of pleasant image or scenery with accompanying soothing soundtrack while users fall asleep, do yoga, meditate or engage in other stress reducing activities.

The free version of “relaxing sounds” has four images – a singing bird, heavy rain, a fireplace, and a waterfall, all with accompanying soundtrack.   The app has a banner ad on the bottom.  The user has the option to purchase additional sounds, as well as to pay a $0.99 fee to remove the banner.

Reviewers report that the bird soundtrack is good for entertaining pet cats and birds.

While this approach to relaxation doesn’t work for everybody, many users do seem to find it helpful.

Requirements: 

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Cost:

Free, or $0.99 to get rid of the  banner ad.  Additional cost to download more sounds and images.

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Simone Fary is an Instructional Design and Technology Specialist at the Danya Institute

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Relax – Stress and Anxiety relief

relax2 relax1Learning to be aware of one’s breathing patterns and control them is an important way to develop mindfulness and reduce stress for many cultures and traditions.  This app functions as a breathing coach.  It has a detailed explanation of breathing technique in the information section.  It provides a choice of classical, vedic, nature, “serenity” and “ambient” music.  Each is very repetitive – playing the same short segment over and over again for each breath cycle.

A nice feature of this app is that it gives both visual and audio cues.  Those who are more visually inclined can watch a moving graphic of a pie chart to sync their inhalations and exhalations.  Others may prefer to simply close their eyes and match their breathing to the soundtrack.

Users can select how long they would like their relaxation session to be –  starting at 5 minutes and going all the way up to an hour.  They can also choose the length of time for each individual breath.  This reviewer didn’t like how the inhalation segment was shorter than the exhalation and would have liked a way to customize this.  In fairness, this may be an option in the paid version.  As someone with occasionally restricted airways, this reviewer also would prefer the option of a shorter breath cycle.  However, she did find the app effective at slowing down her breathing and thus feeling more relaxed.

Note:  Some reviewers for the Kindle Fire version complained there was no audio.  It is not known whether this has been fixed.

Requirements:

  • iPad
  • Android, via Google Play
  • Kindle Fire

Cost:

iPad version

Free for lite version with beginner options only

$2.99 HD version

Android version via Google Play

Free for lite version with beginner options only

$3.50 paid version

Kindle Fire

$0.99

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Simone Fary is an Instructional Design and Technology Specialist at the Danya Institute

 

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Take a Break – Guided Meditations for Stress Relief

takeabreak1 takeabreak2

This app from Meditation Oasis provides two “guided meditations”.  Guided meditation occurs when one person (either in person or through a recording) guides another with verbal cues and instructions in order to facilitate relaxation.  Most guided meditations give some instructions on how to relax the body, clear the mind, breathe more easily, let go of stress and refocus one’s awareness and attention more productively.

People new or resistant to meditation tend to find it easier to follow instructions then try to meditate on their own.  Having a voice to focus on helps keep most people’s minds on track instead of wandering off or returning to the things that are stressing them.

This particular app allows users the option of having a background soundtrack of music or three different nature sounds (ocean, rain or stream) while the narrator speaks.  They can customize the volume of the voice and background soundtracks separately.  Users can also choose to mute the voice completely if they want an unguided meditation session.

There are two easy to accomplish lengths – a 7 minute “work break” and a 13 minute “stress relief” session.  This reviewer found the woman’s gentle voice and monologue soothing and quite effective at promoting relaxation.  She also liked the fact that the meditations were of a very short and manageable length, yet long enough to be effective.  The instructions were clear and reassuring for those new to meditation, or who have found previous efforts to be frustrating.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Android, via Google Play
  • Kindle Fire

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Simone Fary is an Instructional Design and Technology Specialist at the Danya Institute

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Balls

balls

While some find may find playing games on their mobile devices a good way to relax, most would probably consider it a stretch to call them legitimate tools for stress reduction.  “Balls” by Dan Sayers is the kind of game app that comes up while searching for “relaxation” or “stress relief”.  You use your fingers to guide colored lines around the screen.  While there are allegedly music and sounds, this reviewer was not able to activate any of them. Other reviewers reported similar results.  This reviewer found the app briefly diverting, but not useful for relaxation or stress relief.  Of 12 reviews, only one said they found it “relaxing” the rest either found it “fun” or disappointing.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install easy to use the visual part, couldn’t figure out the audio component

Simone Fary is an Instructional Design and Technology Specialist at the Danya Institute

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5 Minute Chillout Lite – Easy Relaxation

5 minute

This Apple only app provides two simple five minute guided meditations.   Guided meditation occurs when one person (either in person or through a recording) guides another with verbal cues and instructions in order to facilitate relaxation.  Most guided meditations give some instructions on how to relax the body, clear the mind, breath more easily, let go of stress and refocus one’s awareness and attention more productively.

People new or resistant to meditation tend to find it easier to follow instructions then try to figure out how to do meditation on their own.  Having a voice to focus on helps keep most people’s minds on track instead of wandering off or returning to the things that are stressing them.

Both options have a soothing female voice and new age type music.  One is meant to help you fall asleep.  The other is meant as a five minute break for those wanting a quick meditation before resuming their daily activities.  This reviewer would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two – the one to help falling asleep mentioned the user being in a chair, which doesn’t seem like a safe place to have somebody deliberately fall asleep.  However, the one meant to be done with the intention of staying awake afterwards seemed effective enough, guiding the listener through a systematic relaxation of different body parts.  While not the best free guided meditation app out there, the waking version should provide most users with a quick and easy to use way to reduce their stress levels.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Simone Fary is an Instructional Design and Technology Specialist at the Danya Institute

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APPLICATIONS FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

MindTools

mindtools

The Mind Tools app can serve as a resource for new and mid-level leaders.  As a new leader you may not know where to start to develop your leadership skills, and the Mind Tools app helps you quickly focus on key competencies, leadership theories, and management strategies to help set a foundation to develop your leadership skills.  The app is easy to use, which is great for individuals that may be new to using apps (content can be accessed within 2 clicks) and the content loads quickly.

Many of the articles can be read in about 30 minutes and provide a summary of key points at the end.  The content provided through the app is also available on the website Mindtools.com, so the app is probably better for individuals that prefer to get information on the go, accessing content via apps, or easily accessing content when a computer is not available (e.g., desk-side discussion with a team member or in the field).  All the content on the app is provided through articles, which may not appeal to users that prefer content delivery in a variety of formats (e.g., audio, video).  The app also does not provide any type of interactive features (e.g., taking skills assessment), but these tools are available via MindTools.com.

The Mind Tools app provides access to their Mindtools Toolkit which has 12 skill building categories with over 100 articles on areas such as team management, leadership, problem solving, and communication skills.  The information presented through the app is easily accessible and concise, allowing users to get resources they need while using their smartphone or tablet.

A few highlights from the app include:

  • Team Management Articles: The GROW Model and Team Management Skills
  • Leadership Development Articles: Leadership Styles and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
  • Communication Skills Articles: Making a Great First Impressions, Win-Win Negations, and Thinking on Your Feet
  • Career Skills Articles: Personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis, Myers Briggs Personality Testing, and Dealing with Office Politics

The app compliments the Mindtools.com website which features over 600 resources that include articles, videos, and self-assessments to assist individuals with career development.  The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android.  Users can sign up to receive a free weekly newsletter through the app, which also gives them access to a free Personal Development Plan Workbook.

The Mind Tools app has received favorable reviews by users with a 4.6 out of 5 rating and over 350 users (out of 450) giving it a 5 star rating.

Requirements:

  • iPhone and iPad
  • Android, via Google Play

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Talonda C Broadnax is a Team Leader from North Carolina

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OTHER APPLICATIONS RELEVANT TO THE FIELD

gradPSYCH

gradpsych

The American Psychological Association Graduate Students (APAGS) offers a mobile app version of its magazine, gradPSYCH.  It was created primarily for those pursuing careers in psychology. Published four times a year, the magazine offers information about job listings, advice for landing internship positions and surviving graduate school, tips for dissertations, and articles on an array of relevant psychology topics that—at no charge—are priceless resources for graduate students and early professionals in psychology.

The mobile app offers no additional features beyond the magazine’s internet version which allows users to easily click links, share articles on social media, watch videos, and also gives free access to all earlier publications of the magazine. Most reviewers were pleased with the app, citing the informative nature of the magazine as the reason for their high ratings.

The app fundamentally serves as a mobile version of the paper magazine. Though the magazine can also be accessed through the internet, downloading the magazine as an app may simply make it easier for mobile users to open.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad
  • Android, via Google Play
  • Kindle devices

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Catie Greene, MS, is a pre-doctoral student of Counselor Education at the College of William & Mary

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APA Monitor

This app from the American Psychological Association allows users to view the whole magazine for free.  This is different from many other publications’ apps that merely provide samples.  Both current and past issues can be downloaded for offline reading.  There is a searchable archive of past articles.  These articles are written in a clear, easy to read style and contain interesting and useful information on the latest research findings and treatments. This app is recommended for anybody looking for an easy way to keep up with developments in the field.

Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Android, via Google Play
  • Kindle Fire

Cost:

Free

Usability:

Easy to install and use

Simone Fary is an Instructional Design and Technology Specialist at the Danya Institute

 

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