It has often been blamed for contributing to high-risk behaviour such as reckless driving or illiteracy, but could texting also have a positive side?
According to social welfare professor Adrian Aguilera at the University of California, Berkeley, who treats many low-income people for depression and other mental disorders, people who feel stressed out, isolated or alone could feel more connected and cared for when receiving text messages that ask them to track their moods, reflect on positive interactions or take their prescribed medications.
“When I was in a difficult situation and I received a message, I felt much better. I felt cared for and supported. My mood even improved,” reported one patient in Aguilera’s cognitive behaviour therapy group.
Aguilera’s project was started in 2010 when he developed a customised SMS intervention programme in which his patients were sent automated text messages that prompted them to think and reply about their moods.
“We are harnessing a technology that people use in their everyday lives to improve mental health in low-income, under-served communities,” said Aguilera.
Participants in the study were people who do not have as much access to computers and the internet, who could not afford tablets or laptops or smartphones, but most had a basic mobile phone on a prepaid monthly plan.
Do you think you’d benefit from an automated text that ‘checks in’ with you every so often? Leave a comment below with your views.