October 10, 2015 was World Mental Health Day, an event created by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help raise awareness and eliminate the stigma of mental illness.
This year’s theme was “dignity in mental health,” and its aim was to ensure that people with mental health conditions can continue to live with dignity.
The WHO reports that one in four people face mental illness or a neurological condition in their lifetimes.
An estimated 350 million people currently suffer from depression worldwide. Unfortunately, social stigma, the high cost of psychotherapy and the inaccessibility of professional therapists prevent many people from seeking help for these conditions.
In 2014, the WHO found that 60 countries had less than one psychiatrist available per every 100,000 people. In some countries, up to 85% of people with mental illness receive no treatment.
Others may not seek help because they are unable to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. So how can individuals suffering from mental illnesses get the support they need?
Connecting People to Support
A new app called TruReach seeks to connect people and organizations to evidence-based mental wellness support.
Founder, Jeff Perron, a PhD candidate in clinical psychology, began his career working in human resources. He left when he felt a calling to help people cope with mental illness. “It was a good job, and I enjoyed it, but at the end of the day I felt like I was a middleman between actually getting people some kind of help,” he told the Ottawa Citizen.
TruReach was born out of Perron’s frustration with the lack of accessible treatment for patients who are suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses — and his desire to help as many people as possible. “I can do the traditional therapy and see people one-on-one, or I can help potentially thousands if not more people at once,” he said.
While Perron stressed that TruReach is not a replacement for psychotherapy or medication, he explained that it can serve as a first line of defense for adults and teens who are stressed, anxious or depressed.
TruReach was built on the principles of cognitive behavior therapy, and it is modeled after popular apps like Headspace and Duolingo. The app walks users through one lesson at a time, unlocking a new lesson after each previous lesson is completed.
Each TruReach lesson is about five minutes long and provides animated instructions which teach many of the same skills taught in talk therapy.
The first 12 lessons are free, and the remaining six lessons cost only $7.99. Perron has stated that the revenue from the app will help develop new programs to address other mental illnesses, including eating disorders, social anxiety and ADHD.
The Power of Journaling
TruReach users are also provided with an electronic thought journal to help them apply the lessons they’ve learned through the app and counteract negative thinking. Thought journals are recommended in cognitive behavior therapy as a way to help patients analyze their thoughts.
While the TruReach app may not be the best solution for everyone, Perron hopes it can offer some immediate help between appointments with professional therapists, or a lifeline to those who cannot access or afford professional treatment.
In addition to providing help for individuals with no access to it, TruReach can help busy people fit mental health and wellness into their daily lives.
Just five minutes a day can help you address mental health problems and provide valuable information at your fingertips. TruReach is available for Apple devices through iTunes and the App Store, and for Android devices through Google Play.
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