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A study done by Rutgers School of Public Health, titled Aging and Mental Health, evaluated the effectiveness of Mindfulness Coach, an app that teaches people to practice mindfulness. The researchers looked into how caregivers can use the app to reduce stress.

Caregivers deal with high levels of stress 

According to an instructor at the Department of Health, Behavior, Society, and Policy at Rutgers, Elisa Kozlov, caregiving is a stressful job. Because it is time-consuming, caregivers rarely get the time to seek traditional avenues like therapy that would help them deal with their mental health. The study shows that mHealth techniques do not cause a lot of disruption to their busy schedule and enable them to seek the help they need.

Relatives and friends who take on the role of unpaid caregivers face a higher amount of stress. They provide a lot of support for their loved ones, usually for a prolonged period. Being caregivers for people close to them can often take a physical, mental, and emotional strain.

The Mindfulness Coach app offers mindfulness exercises, guided meditation, and psychological education to help people deal with depression and stress. The Department of Veterans Affairs at the National Center for PTSD (NCP) developed the app.

How researchers conducted the study

While the NCP created the app with veterans in mind, researchers wanted to determine if it could yield positive results for caregivers for the elderly. They gathered caregivers and followed them for eight weeks to evaluate their caregiver burden, depression, and anxiety levels. They also looked at how long it took them to use the app, their user experience, and their level of satisfaction. The team concluded that the caregivers would experience decreased depression, caregiver burden, and anxiety when they used the app.

The chairman and professor in the Department of Health Behavior, Society and Policy at Rutgers, Paul Duberstein, adds that the app offered tailored treatment for patients with stress and anxiety. Therefore the app was a user-friendly and appropriate option for caregivers dealing with a lot of stress.

The study shows that mHealth could one day become an important option when dealing with mental illness for patients through accessibility and scalability.