April 27, 2012
Texting Helps Latinos Deal With Depression
A study shows that text messaging can improve mood and help with mental health issues, according to a study published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice and reported by ScienceDaily.
For the study, lead author Adrian Aguilera, PhD, assistant professor at University of California at Berkeley's School of Mental Health, established an intervention program for low-income Latino patients suffering from depression and other mental health issues. (This supplemented the participants' normal cognitive behavioral therapy.)
Participants were sent automatic text messages to remind them to take their medication. Other texts prompted them to think about their moods and their positive and negative interactions with other people, and to reply with their thoughts.
The participants reported that their mood improved and that they felt more cared for and better connected with other people as a result of the text messages. In addition, when the program wrapped up after several weeks, three-quarters of the participants asked that they keep receiving the text messages.
"We are harnessing a technology that people use in their everyday lives to improve mental health in low-income, under-served communities," said lead author Adrian Aguilera, PhD, assistant professor at UC Berkeley's School of Mental Health. "The people I wanted to impact directly didn't have as much access to computers and the Internet."
According to recent Pew Foundation data, Latinos and African Americans both send and receive more texts than whites. Of the 2,277 adult cell phone users surveyed, the most active users were non-whites who earned less than $30,000 per year and hadn't graduated high school.
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