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How Texting Can Improve Mental Health

Text message reminders used as study interventions can boost mood

A recent study conducted by UC Berkeley researchers has found an innovative perspective on texting. Though many of us often feel bogged down or even stressed out by the constant barrage of technologies commanding our attention, for some texting can be a relief. Research conducted with low-income under-served Latino populations suffering from depression and other mental disorders has brought hope that a simple technology can have far-reaching consequences.

Dr. Adrian Aguilera, a clinical psychologist from UC Berkeley, collaborated with Dr. Ricardo Munoz of UCSF to develop an intervention program that uses text messaging to remind study participants to track their moods, take their prescribed medications, and reflect on positive interactions. This intervention was found particularly helpful as according to their research, some of the most active text message senders and receivers were non-Whites (primarily African Americans and Latinos) and often from lower SES backgrounds. As such, these populations often do not have access to smart phones, laptops, and iPads. However, a basic text messaging plan is accessible and something they already have.

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Though the study was originally limited in duration, 75% of participants wanted to continue receiving such text messages. Such findings can be a powerful tool for future studies in community-based research. As our technologically complex lives are in many ways pulling us apart from one another, there can be hope that we can use these very tools to come together. Sure, we don’t use our phones for actually calling one another (what a thought!) even though research has shown that just hearing a loved one’s voice can be enough to lower blood pressure and other physiological measures. At least maybe a text message reminder every now and again can provide us with a little bit of comfort. It can remind us we are cared for and that we matter in this world. So go ahead, and pay it forward.

As checking our phones for possible texts has become such a natural impulse (and you will probably check right after reading this post), go with it and send out those LOLs and :o) .

Follow me on Twitter at MillenialMedia

Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D., received her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Notre Dame.

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