Texting to Soothe a Troubled Soul
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley happened upon an interesting use of text messages while working with patients of depression and other mental disorders. The patients were primarily Latino and of low income, so not all of them had access to computers or smartphones. To remind them to use the skills they learned in their therapy sessions, the researchers decided to send text messages, which could be received on the cell phones the patients owned.
The regular contact with the mental health professionals had a great impact on the patients. Remember, some of these patients suffer from depression and all likely had many stressors in their lives. By receiving the text messages, it made them feel as though someone does care about them and even support them.
As a testament to the impact the messages had on the patients, when the texting sessions were coming to a close after so many weeks, and the patients were asked to give feedback, about 75% requested that they continue to receive the texts. At one point during the program, a technical problem caused the automated system to go down for a week. One of the patients not only missed receiving the messages but also said this: My life is so crazy, I need a reminder to think about how I feel.