With the rise of wearable health devices and health apps has come interest in figuring out ways to integrate all these data streams into meaningful signals that can be used to improve health. For example, one group is working on using wearables to help people quit smoking.

Stress affects all of us and for many people causes a lot of distress. A new health app is trying to use wearable health monitors to monitor for physiologic signals of stress so that users can manage their stress more effectively.

Mindset was developed by a group of medical and engineering students at Washington University of St. Louis. Created to help veterans and others manage stress on their own, Mindset incorporates principles of biofeedback into an Android and iOS health app, created with an advisory board of psychiatrists and psychologists. It’s currently in beta release form, with plans to incorporate functionality for data sharing with clinicians as it develops.

So how does Mindset work? In short, users must wear a supported activity monitor device while also keeping their phone in proximity. Once the phone notes signs of the user experiencing stress, primarily through heart rate monitoring, it will provide an alert.

Users can then select from a visually appealing menu of options over what they are feeling at the time, and then take steps to reduce their symptoms. Various exercises are included, with gamification of stress management provided through points obtained for heart rate reduction and so on. The developers have built the app with the belief that making people more aware of their emotions is a key step in self-management of stress.

On the surface, it sounds fantastic, but is this really something that clinicians could recommend to their patients? The developers have mentioned including a monthly subscription fee, and having actual clinical evidence that this app works is imperative before even considering a medical treatment app.

Mindset is undergoing investigational testing, currently on medical students, both with and without the device, with self-reported stress levels being analyzed. Adding more robust measurements, and clinically significant outcomes measurements are important – we’ll be watching for the results of this study in the future.

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Stressed? There’s an app for that