California uses mobile apps to improve access to mental health services 

The California Mental Health Services Authority is offering some state residents access to mobile applications to help expand their mental health treatment and resources, according to U.S. News and World Report.

In 2018, CalMHSA launched two mobile apps geared toward increasing access to mental health services: Mindstrong and 7 Cups. Mindstrong can notify users when they may be exhibiting abnormal behavior and should potentially seek mental health support by tracking users' phone activity. The app monitors how the user types and scrolls to assess their different biomarkers.

7Cups is a digital network that connects individuals with licensed therapists and counselors as well as chat rooms where people can communicate with others who have similar experiences. The app also features a digital journal, so users can document how they're feeling each day. 

"These new technologies have the potential to 'free' the [mental health services] system, so to speak, from geographic and time constraints," Dana Mukamel, MD, and Dara Sorkin, MD, co-principal investigators on the CalMHSA project, called Help & Hand, told U.S. News.  

Thirteen California counties have partnered with CalMHSA to explore the apps, according to the report. Additionally, Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles County has 22 cognitive behavioral therapy patients who have been using the Mindstrong app since December 2018.

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