Technology connects service members to psychological health help

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Technology connects service members to psychological health help

by: Yolanda R. Arrington | .
Armed With Science | .
published: May 08, 2015

Everyone is online these days. Uploading photos. Sending short video messages. Sharing what they’re having for lunch. But, how do you use technology to get social media to matter in a sea of chatter? Well, there’s an app for that! Service members, veterans and their families have a new way to get social, showcase their strengths and connect to psychological health help. And, it’s as easy as tapping their mobile devices.

Real Warriors,” a public awareness campaign that encourages help-seeking behavior in the military community, was started by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) in 2009. The campaign recently launched its mobile app with the goal of connecting the military community to resources for invisible wounds. This mobile technology allows the campaign to be in the space where service members are.

The Real Warriors app and complementary website are designed to promote self-help and encourage warriors to support their peers by ‘saluting’ and sharing positive photos and messages from important events like deployments and homecomings,” said MAJ Demietrice Pittman, clinical psychologist and Real Warriors Campaign contracting officer.

Service members are encouraged to share photos of themselves, their families and their accomplishments via the app. The site’s 24/7 resources also function as a way to connect those experiencing stress. The campaign consulted with the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) to get feedback on the app’s concept. Service members and military families also provided feedback.

Much like the popular app, Instagram, users are encouraged to upload images onto the Real Warriors app, choose one of four messages like “thank you for your service” or “I stay mission ready,” choose an image filter, and include their own personalized caption with each post. The app gives the military community a way to salute peers, while each photo is watermarked with the Real Warriors website, giving users constant reminders of where to learn about and seek care for invisible wounds. App users may “salute” images that resonate with them, in the same way Facebook users may “like” content. Social media sharing functions are also built into the app.

The key element of the app is its interface with the Reach Out 24/7 feature that allows the user to anonymously connect with the DCoE Outreach Center to find resources in their area and the Military Crisis Line for immediate response from a counselor. The app also sends out push notifications to further engage its users.

The app has been downloaded more than 1,100 times since its September 2014 launch and nearly 400 photos have been submitted. The Real Warriors app complementary website was also recently named the Web Marketing Association’s “Best Military Website.”

Currently, the app is only available for download on iOS devices but Android users may view content on the app’s responsive site or on Facebook.

Yolanda R. Arrington is the content manager for Armed with Science. She is a journalist and social media-ista with a flair for moving pictures and writing.

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