Virtual Hope Box for stress and emotional regulation

While there are many options to help with mental health, one particular app called the Virtual Hope Box (VHB) can be useful for coping with unpleasant emotions and thoughts which can impact a variety of mental health symptoms.

Is there research to show that this app is helpful?

  • This app can help with emotional regulation and reducing stress according to a randomized controlled trial (1). Future studies are ongoing.
  • Numerous research studies support many features of the app like relaxation skills and distraction techniques.

What is the cost?

  • Free. It was developed via a government grant and was awarded the DoD Innovation Award in 2014.

What are the features of the VHB app?

  • It comes with preloaded features like inspirational tools, relaxation skills, coping tools, distraction techniques, emergency contact numbers.
  • It can also be customized to include your own music, images, phone numbers of supportive contacts, and reminders of reasons for living.
  • You can fill out coping cards and activity planners with help of a mental health professional.
  • These features are shown in the image below:

Screenshot ImageScreenshot ImageScreenshot Image

Additional resources:

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Bush NE, Smolenski DJ, Denneson LM, Williams HB, Thomas EK, Dobscha SK. A virtual hope box: randomized controlled trial of a smartphone app for emotional regulation and coping with distress. Psychiatr Serv. 2017 Apr 1;68(4):330–6. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201600283.

Health insurance for mental health

Many times, college students might need to use health insurance to access some mental health services.

Unfortunately, some students have health insurance from their home area, which can be out of network in the campus area.  This can limit access to care even though students have health insurance.

Other times, students with health insurance may have high deductible plans that limit affordability of mental health services due to high copays and out of pocket costs.

What are possible solution to this?

  • In some emergency situations OSU office of Student Advocacy may be able to help.
  • Prescription drug discounts can be obtained using goodrx. (Goodrx.com).
  • Students may be able to contact their insurance company for in-network options or other arrangements.
  • Finally, some students may find it beneficial to switch over to OSU student health insurance for better coverage of mental health concerns,  affordability, and in network options.
  • This insurance is designed and priced with college students in mind.

According to Harry Warner, M.A. LPCC-S, Associate Director, Director of outreach, OSU-CCS, other potential advantages could be:

  • More affordable access to a wider variety of providers
  • Greater privacy over healthcare decisions
  • Move out-state-care to central Ohio

Where can students learn more about insurance?

To learn more about health insurance, co-pays,  premiums, deductible,  in/out of network etc. Go to the OSU Student Health insurance website ( https://shi.osu.edu/resources/frequently-asked-questions )

This time of year may be a good option for students considering to switch.

Special acknowledgement to Harry Warner, M.A. LPCC-S, Associate Director, Director of outreach, OSU-CCS for contributing to this post.

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

 

Depression can be more than sadness and loss of interest

In 2019, men died by suicide 3.63x as often as women (1).

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide.

Can depression look different in men? 

According to the National institute of Mental Health (2), different men have different symptoms, but some depression symptoms (in addition to depressed mood and loss of interest) experienced by men include:

  • Anger, irritability.
  • Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”
  • Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities
  • Problems with sexual desire and performance
  • Feeling sad, “empty,” flat, or hopeless
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
  • Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • A need for alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated

Not every man who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some men experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many of the above symptoms (2)

Many men are more likely to see their doctor about physical symptoms noted above (which could be related to depression) than emotional symptoms (2).

What is being done to help address the disparity in men’s mental health?

 

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/men-and-depression