Lisle, Illinois - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
The Division of Digital Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a collaborative research group comprised of mental health professionals with the goal to improve the quality and accessibility of treatment for mental illness through education, research, and innovation in digital psychiatry. Over the past year, the Division of Digital Psychiatry has engaged with the American Psychiatric Association to create a comprehensive, objective framework to rate and evaluate mental health apps in the market. With over 10,000 mental health-related apps available to download, it is often challenging to find the right app that caters to the needs of each user. Therefore, in conjunction with the framework to evaluate apps, the Division of Digital Psychiatry wanted to engage in creating a comprehensive database that publicly offers data on the mental-health apps available and provides insight into each app, to better allow users to understand the app they are downloading. Over the summer, I engaged in a few different projects that each sought to further the research group’s goal of increasing accessibility for treatment through the intersection of technology and psychiatry. (1) I helped design and create the mental health app database that is now live and public at: https://apps.digitalpsych.org/. (2) I evaluated apps in the space of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and trauma, & also evaluated the emerging space of COVID-19 apps. (3) I participated in a partnership with the FIMRC site in Costa Rica (Project Alajuelita) to integrate technology into their mental health services. Through this I had the opportunity to learn more about global mental health, the population that the clinic serves, and also understand how I could adapt the database for use outside of the US, such as the FIMRC Costa Rica site. What I will truly take away from this project is not only a better understanding of the mental health app space, but a newfound appreciation for it. Before starting my summer project, I had only heard of a few mental health apps such as Headspace, but this project gave me the opportunity to really delve and gain a stronger awareness of the depth and breadth of this app space and even find the perfect apps to augment my own mental health. Moreover, as a student who has primarily conducted “wet-lab” research experiences, this summer project was a wonderful experience for me to see how to merge my interests for research and mental health together to make an impact in the community. Although I was initially disappointed in having to recreate a summer project after the start of the pandemic, I think this summer project proved to be just as engaging, challenging, and inspirational for me as I continue to serve in the space of mental health. I hope that my summer project will not only provide physicians, mental health providers, and patients with a resource and tool to better understand the intricacy of the mental health app space but also hopefully provide an opportunity for people to find the perfect app for their mental health!