Help Your Patients Build Resilience and Resist Negative Thoughts Via Positive Activities
Since 9/11, the country has been at war. And the longest conflict in U.S. history has resulted in an enormous number of active-duty soldiers and veterans with mental health concerns. Part of the response to these issues was the creation of apps by the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology (AKA T2) now rebranded as the Defense Health Agency’s Web & Mobile Technology Programs Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Their apps are targeted for both patients and providers and cover topics ranging from depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and resiliency. One of the most popular apps they have released to date has been T2 Mood Tracker. Previously here on iMedicalApps, we had high praise for apps from the Defense Health Agency moniker including their DHA Opioid app, the contraception app, Decide + Be Ready, and most recently, the Pediatric to Adolescent Care Transition (PACT) app. 

Until recently, the Positive Activity Jackpot was only available for Android. Now it has been updated and available for both Android and iOS. The app utilizes a type of behavioral therapy for depression called pleasant event scheduling (PES). The app is NOT meant to be a substitute for the “gold standard” depression treatments of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or medications. Instead, the app is intended to be prescribed along with those proven treatments to help patients build resilience and resist the negative thoughts that can cause anhedonia and other depression symptoms. The app provides a “jackpot” of activities via an augmented reality game that resembles a slot machine and utilizes the user’s GPS/location services for suggestions.

Evidence-Based Medicine

The DHA Positive Activity Jackpot app contains highly useful activities for patients to “practice” while receiving proper mental health treatments for depression and similar mental health conditions. The app is evidence-based utilizing a therapy technique called pleasant event scheduling (PES). The app includes references and utilizes a slot machine game format for patients. 

What providers would benefit from this app?

Students, residents, mid-levels, family medicine, psychiatry, psychology, social workers, and any provider who treats patients with depression should have this app and prescribe it to their patients.

Price

o Free

Likes

o Fills a gap for a prescribable app for depressed patients via an augmented reality game

o Great number of activities to choose from and the ability to create/customize own activities

o Available for Android

Dislikes

o User interface still seems a bit basic yet cluttered

o GPS integration/locality suggestions inconsistent/not deeply integrated

o Occasional “bugs” when using leading to unintended “pulls” on the slot machine

Overall

The updated Positive Activity Jackpot app from the Defense Health Agency (DHA) provides a fantastic opportunity for primary care and behavioral health providers to prescribe a highly useful, fun, and easy to use app for their patients. The app can provide hours of fun for patients to build resilience and keep their mind off of negative depressive symptoms via PES. The app could be improved by deeper integration of the app with the user’s mobile device. A must-have app for any provider who treats depression or similar mental health issues. 

Overall Score

o 4.5 stars

User Interface

o 4.5 stars

Interface is intuitive and works like slot machine game for positive activities in numerous categories from indoor/outdoor, sports, shopping, etc.

Multimedia Usage

o 4.5 stars

App has the ability to use the mobile device’s GPS for some activities such as road trips. 

Price

o 5 stars

App is free!

Real-World Applicability

o 5.0 stars

A great app to prescribe to your patients with depression or similar mental health issues. The app’s interactive user interface and ability to link (to a limited extent) to local activities via GPS should help with acceptance to a patient population quite familiar with mobile devices. The app should not be a substitute for proper treatment of depression with cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication. 

Device Used For Review

o iPhone 8S running iOS 12.4.1

Available for Download for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government