'Mood Mate'—free app available to help people with depression

October 12, 2012, University of Reading

Psychologists at the University of Reading have launched a free iPhone app to help people with depression get direct access to help - without needing to go to their GP.

Developed as part of a PhD research project, the app, called Mood Mate, is available for download now.

It was launched on October 10, World Mental Health Day, but has already had early success, with more than 1,500 downloads, a #3 ranking among free Health & Fitness apps, and Twitter recognition by Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spokesman who now campaigns on mental health.

The free app will help people monitor their own mood and will help detect signs that they are becoming depressed or anxious. If the app finds a person could benefit from help, it will point them towards local treatment services, often ones that they can access without first going to their doctor.    

On a PhD programme funded by the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, the Mood Mate app collects data anonymously to analyse whether monitoring mood over time helps people seek treatment - contributing to crucial research which could help health authorities provide better treatments in the future.

The app is the brainchild of Alex Gyani, a researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Reading. Alex first had the idea to conduct a trial using an app in December last year. Since then, Alex has been working to develop the app with a team of programmers and developers at the University of Reading.

Alex said: "Having a randomized controlled trial built into an app that is available on the store is a fantastic way to conduct research and the more participants we can recruit, the more we will learn. That's why an app is such a great way to conduct a trial like this one.

"We hope it will enable us to find new ways to help people suffering from mental health problems in the UK get the psychological treatments that have been shown to work."

More people than ever are suffering from stress, anxiety and . National surveys have found that 1 in 6 people could be suffering from a common mental health disorder at any given time. But many people are not accessing treatment that has been shown, in clinical trials, to be effective.  

The Mood Mate app is designed to help increase the number of people who access psychological therapies in the UK. The government has spent £400 million on its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) initiative since 2007, including training 6,000 new therapists in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). These treatments work, with one study showing that more than half of patients recovered and stayed well.

But the NHS is not treating as many people as it budgeted for. Some GPs are not referring patients to mental health services and some patients do not disclose these issues to their GPs, preferring more informal routes. The Mood Mate is designed to help people decide if they need help and give them the information they need to refer themselves to local treatment services, rather than having to go through a GP.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Angry people might not be as smart as they think they are

August 13, 2018
People who are quick to lose their temper are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence, a new study from The University of Western Australia and the University of Warsaw in Poland has found.

Depressed teens, depressed parents

August 12, 2018
The bond between parent and child extends far beyond sharing similar looks or behaviors, as symptoms of depression in teens and parents appear to be linked, according to research presented at the annual convention of the ...

Rude to your coworker? Think of the children

August 12, 2018
When people are rude to their coworkers or treat them badly, they probably don't realize the unintended victims in that encounter could be the coworkers' children. Women who experience incivility in the workplace are more ...

In the game of online dating, men and women try to level up, study finds

August 11, 2018
In the world of online dating, men and women look to find someone a little out of their league, according to a new study. Scientists who analyzed user data from a popular dating site have found that heterosexual men and women ...

Targeting a brain mechanism could treat aggression

August 9, 2018
A number of psychiatric disorders present with aggression and violence, which, needless to say, are destructive to both individuals and societies worldwide: death, disease, disability, and numerous socioeconomic problems ...

New theory may explain cause of depression and improve treatments

August 9, 2018
A new area in depression research suggests dysfunction in mitochondria—the main source of energy for cells—could lead to major depression. Published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, this new insight to long-held theories ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.