Sidekick Studios’ digital mental health application to support UK Army veterans

21 May 2013 (Last Updated May 21st, 2013 18:30)

Sidekick Studios has rolled out its award-winning digital mental health application, Buddy, to support psychological therapy services for more than 500 UK Army veterans returning from Afghanistan in the next six months.

UK soldier

Sidekick Studios has rolled out its award-winning digital mental health application, Buddy, to support psychological therapy services for more than 500 UK Army veterans returning from Afghanistan in the next six months.

The move follows the successful completion of the application's trials by the Military Veterans' improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) service in Crewe, UK.

In addition to supporting 92 retired servicemen suffering from mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the application is also used by several National Health Service (NHS) trusts to help mental health patients with a multitude of care needs across the country.

A simple web based application and SMS technology, Buddy enables constant contact between therapists and clients for the maintenance of a regular diary of the latter's mood to help improve recovery rates and reduce the cost of unattended sessions.

Military Veterans IAPT service (north-west) principle clinical psychologist and clinical lead Dr Alan Barrett said the tool has been used by ex-servicemen according to their requirements, including for appointment reminder functions, to numerically rate their day and provide brief text description of daily activities.

"Others have reflected on their week where previously they hadn't, and some have fully engaged with all the functionality that Buddy currently offers," Barrett said.

"We continue to evaluate the benefits of using Buddy within the military veteran community in the hope that we can further reduce social isolation and promote a greater sense of connection with the world."

"We continue to evaluate the benefits of using Buddy within the military veteran community in the hope that we can further reduce social isolation and promote a greater sense of connection with the world."

Launched in 2012 with support from NHS London Regional Innovation Fund (RIF) and National Endowment Society, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), Buddy replaces legacy paper-based mood diaries with accurate SMS reminders, and augments effectiveness of the behavioural activation techniques used by therapists during sessions.

MCCH service development manager Lisa Parle said the application served as a prompt for discussion of events and experiences that had left either negative or positive impact on the patient's well-being.

"This strengthens the relationship between the person and their key worker," Parle added.


Image: Buddy will support psychological therapy services of UK Army veterans returning from Afghanistan. Photo: Cpl Paul Morrison/Crown Copyright.

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