There are increasing stress rates in the female population, but many women cannot access professional therapy services, due to, for instance, busy day schedules, financial matters, or long commute times to the nearest psychotherapist. In her fellowship, Marta Marciniak develops a mental health mobile app designed for women.
Most of the available mental health apps are neither evidence-based nor scientifically tested. For instance, 67% of the available apps are developed without any guidance from a healthcare professional, only 15% of the apps used for bipolar disorder treatment follow best-practice guidelines, and out of the 25 highest-rated apps for anxiety, none include any content consistent with evidence-based treatments. It means that these apps are likely not effective, and in some cases can even be harmful to the users. Also, they are not designed specifically for women, even though female use patterns differ from male patterns. Also, women have different mental health needs, dependent on, for instance, hormonal changes.
The app developed in this Fellowship employs positive prospective mental imagery. This is a very well-researched therapeutic technique that encourages users to think about upcoming positive experiences. A prototype of the app based on mental imagery was tested in a randomized controlled trial at the University of Zurich and proved to be effective in decreasing perceived stress and depressive symptoms.
Affiliation: Prof. Birgit Kleim
Start date: 10/2022