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White House presentations feature mental health technology for young adults

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Holly Korschun

Two Emory technologies presented this week at the White House were aimed at reducing symptoms of depression and suicide risk in young adults.

A White House conference on mental health technologies this week featured two Emory teams presenting web-based and smartphone applications aimed at reducing symptoms of depression in young adults and making it easier for depressed individuals and those at risk for suicide to seek medical help and access life-saving resources.

The two programs were presented at the White House Technology Innovations for Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders conference.

ReliefLink Smartphone App

ReliefLink, a user-friendly mobile app designed to provide continuity and follow-up linkages for persons at risk for suicide, was awarded first prize ($50,000) in the Suicide Prevention: Continuity of Care and Follow-up App Challenges sponsored by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Developed by a team led by Emory psychologist Nadine Kaslow, the ReliefLink app includes mood and behavior monitoring and tracking, safety planning, medications and appointment reminders, a help center map locator, built-in coping tools (e.g., relaxation and mindfulness exercises and relaxing radio music), an emergency button that can connect patients to helplines, providers, 911, and friends/family.

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Technology for Mental Health in Youn Adults

Electronic Self-Management Resource Training for Mental Health (eSMART-MH)

A new avatar-based depression self-management program, called Electronic Self-Management Resource Training for Mental Health (eSMART-MH), immerses young adults into a virtual, primary care environment in which they interact with virtual health care providers and health coaches to practice effective communication about depression symptoms. The technology generates tailored feedback to the participants’ responses.

eSMART-MH was shown in a small research study to significantly reduce depressive symptoms in young adults. The web-based program was originally developed by researchers at Case Western Reserve University to address chronic disease patients, and was tailored by Emory nursing researcher Melissa Pinto for young adults experiencing symptoms of depression.

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