The public now has access to two new mobile applications to help prevent chronic stress and manage moods. Both apps have been scientifically validated by researchers from Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal (CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal), Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).
The iSMART app helps users better understand the stress response mechanism and learn to manage it so they can prevent chronic stress. PsyAssistance acts as a mood manager that can be used daily or in the event of a crisis. It enables depressed individuals to access resources, keep a mood journal, do exercises that enhance well-being, and set up a crisis safety plan.
There are other mobile apps available that touch on stress and mood management to varying degrees; however, most have not been empirically validated, and only offer a bit of general advice or propose evaluations of no scientific value.
“Stress can cause physical health problems such as diabetes and hypertension, or foster mental health disorders. iSMART uses the latest knowledge on stress to help identify and control chronic daily stressors and avoid the associated negative effects,” says Pierrich Plusquellec, researcher at Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and associate professor at École de psychoéducation de l’Université de Montréal. “What iSMART does is prompt you, at regular intervals during a one-month period, to assess your stress level, record your answers, identify the chronicity of your stress, and propose solutions adapted to your situation,” explains Sonia Lupien, director of Centre d’études sur le stress humain and professor at Département de psychiatrie de l’Université de Montréal.
“PsyAssistance is based on principles of behavioural and cognitive therapy, which is centred on learning mechanisms, among others,” says Réal Labelle, researcher at Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and professor in the Department of psychology at UQAM. PsyAssistance is a constantly evolving digital tool that informs, equips and protects people who feel depressed or are going through a crisis. According to Réal Labelle, “PsyAssistance is not a substitute for health professionals. It is a means to help individuals take stock of their situations and focus on well-being. In some cases, the application can be used concurrent with professional treatment.