VA, DOD create mobile app for PTSD treatment, support

Free iPhone application aims to help users overcome stigma of seeking support

Veterans and service members with post-traumatic stress disorder can now get support from a new iPhone application from the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments.

The VA’s National Center for PTSD and DOD’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology created the new PTSD Coach application to provide remote support for veterans and service members with PTSD, whether diagnosed or pre-diagnosed, the VA has announced.

PTSD is a condition that develops months or years after a trauma and can last for decades. The most recent studies of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars indicated that about 14 percent received the diagnosis, which includes symptoms such as disturbing memories and flashbacks.


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The PTSD Coach application was developed for iPhone, iPad and iTouch to provide a self-assessment for the condition, support and treatment options, and tools for managing daily stress from the condition, according to an April 19 news release. The tools support relaxation and positive self-help strategies, and can be customized with contact phone numbers and e-mail addresses, photographs and music, the departments said. An Android version is coming soon.

Julia Hoffman, clinical psychologist with the VA’s PTSD center, said the mobile application is intended to help veterans get over the difficulties in seeking treatment, and can be used anonymously.

“PTSD is characterized by extreme avoidance,” Hoffman wrote April 19 in the VA’s Vantage Point blog. “Many Veterans also have logistical problems getting to treatment because of their location, transportation options, work schedules, etc. Others fear stigma (being shamed or discriminated against) of having a PTSD diagnosis and receiving treatment.”

She said the developers are hopeful that the mobile application can overcome the logistical problems and when used anonymously, can help overcome the stigma.

“For veterans not yet in treatment, PTSD Coach provides tools for managing stress and helps them to understand their difficulties better and learn more about PTSD treatment,” Hoffman wrote.

Federal agencies have created or sponsored more than 30 free mobile applications in recent months as described at the USA.gov website. Many of them provide tools to general consumers and citizens, while others are aimed at assistance for specialized populations.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Sat, Aug 20, 2011 R

This could be helpful if you have what you need to use the app..the ipad or whatever..I am unemployed and have the hardest time being around people or getting along with people. Mst is a work related, social, and just everyday life issue when it has caused ptsd. Not to mention the backlash from your own people in your unit if you report it..There was no way I could survive the hostile work environment of my unit. I had to get out of military because the people there were making me physically ill. I have no benefits right now and just at the end of the rope financially, emotionally, and just feel physically ill. I just wish more people including myself and family could understand this better. Half the time I don't even know why I do the things I do and can't seem to overcome this. I hate my life now..

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 MERIL JOHNSON new mexico

I HAVE BEEN FIGHTING THE VA, FOR OVER 40 YEARS, AND STILL, NOTHING,, I HAVE 50, PER CENT, NOW, HAVE BEEN MARRIED 7 TIMES, SENCE, 1970,, US MARINES,CANT HOLD JOB,, CANT WORK, I WANT TO WORK,, I AM 67, AND STILL, HAVE TO WORK,, TO MAKE IT,, OR I WOULD , WELL WE WANT GO THERE, SORRY,MY EMAIL, jmeril@yahoo.com NO ONE HERE IN NEW MEXICO, WANT TO DO ANYTHING,, I WANT TO TELL YOU MORE,, LATER MERIL, JOHNSON

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 RONNIE L. ROBINSON TAMPA, FL

The most Challenging is getting thru a Days work-People, Hoping you don't fall apart & loose it.(PTSD/MST)It's like you can't escape, we have to deal with it. Your right, having something/someone you can turrn to or talk to in (those moments) can make a world of difference (from avoidance, Living Life or just existing). I'm not up todate with the technology of a iPhone, iPad or iTouch; but I'm convinced that if The PTSD Coach application help can managing stress and helps to understand their difficulties better and learn more, will be a break thru..

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