"Cellphone technology is in the hands of millions and early research indicates that this technology can be useful to help people who are suffering from some form of mental illness," said Kelly Caine, assistant professor at South Carolina-based Clemson University's School of Computing.

For the study, Caine and her colleagues surveyed 325 patients receiving treatment at community-based outpatient clinics for mental illness to determine their cell phone ownership and usage patterns.

"Among mental health patients, we found that texting was the most popular feature used and downloading apps was the least popular," she noted.The patients often shared phones, which made providing private, secure messages difficult, Caine added.

Almost 80 percent of the patients surveyed used texting and many did not use mobile applications."It means that texting may be accessible to the majority of patients and may, therefore, make a more suitable treatment aid," the authors noted.

"By utilising a technology that is readily available and familiar to so many Americans, we see huge potential to improve treatment outcomes and provide patients who currently have only limited access to treatment additional treatment options," Caine concluded.

The study was published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing.


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