Free Apps for the Mental Health Blogger

Posted on August 5, 2012 by

13


As I’m sure you may have noticed by the sheer number of posts I put out a week, I don’t run short of ideas.

Between my own general interests, and breaking news from the alphabet soup of the FDA, AMA, APA, CDC, WHO–and the other APA–I get pretty far.

And that doesn’t count the inevitable, “you should really write a post about. . .” that I get from friends and family members.

But keeping up on the latest in the mental health blogosphere matters, too, which brings me to my topic–even if a bit obliquely–of apps for the mental health blogger. (About the “free” part in the title? I’m not willing to fork over money to find out what other people doing what I do are thinking. I’d rather think myself for free.)

Here are some of the most convenient ways to keep up with mental health blogging from the convenience of your iPhone.

The Mental Elf

I was a fan of the Mental Elf before he had his own app, but my life improved greatly just this past July when access to the little guy appeared on iPhone/appendage.

The Mental Elf, aka Andre Tomlin, has worked for 12 years putting together the latest in mental health research and making it readable (i.e. cutting out every “methods” section and all statistics), for places like Oxford University, the English National Health Service and the World Health Organization. He’s good.

As he says on his website,

“I will find just what you need to keep up-to-date with all of the important and reliable mental health research and guidance. You don’t have to waste time looking at dozens of websites and articles every week. I will post updates every day with short and snappy summaries that highlight evidence-based publications that are relevant to mental health practice in the UK and further afield.”

And that’s just what he does.

The app is particularly well-done. It provides access to the weekly posts (examples of what I’m looking at now are “Can online fantasy games help young people overcome depression?”, “Childhood autistic traits are associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence,” and “Adults with serious mental illness have a mortality rate three times as high as the general population”), which are scholarly yet accessible.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, a number of them are UK-based in their interests, and some might be too academic for certain readers (e.g. the latest post, “Haloperidol reduces mania a little faster than second-generation antipsychotics, according to systematic review” really floats my boat, but may leave those with less interest in the technicalities of psych meds reaching for a Maeve Binchy novel).

It’s searchable by topic, and on each post you can make a private note, which is also later searchable. There’s of course the option to save favorites (spelled, but of course, “favourites”), a way to post a public website comment, and the capacity to share each article via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.

The user interface is lovely, there’s easy access to support–and the app actually works, which is more than I can say for some mental health apps I was testing today. I really give it two thumbs up.

Psych Central

Psych Central, called the “WebMD for mental health,” offers the latest on all aspects of mental health–disorders, medications, therapy, treatments, the whole works. The main pieces are written by founder John Grohol, a clinical psychologist–but then there are dozens of connected blogs that are more specialized.

The app hooks you into the main site, with Psych Central News, and then lets you choose from a ridiculous number of the blogs that are self-updating.

The options run from A to Y, starting with “ADHD from A to Zoe,” passing by “Mental Health Humor” and “Real World Research” and landing on “Y Factor.”

They’re not all top-notch, it’s true, but a choice of “Real World Research”–wait. I was going to say that it was exceptionally useful for the mental health blogger, but I just got updated with a post which lets me know, “And so, dear readers, I am shutting down the Real World Research lab,” so forget that. “Always Learning” will have to suffice.

You can see in the graphic to the left the bells and whistles options–changing font size, selecting what should go on your front page. And you can retweet an article, or share it on Facebook or via e-mail.

The hardest part of using this app is limiting yourself to a reasonable number of blog choices–otherwise your front page becomes impossible to get through.

APA Journals

How this gem of a find stays free is more than I can fathom, but I’m not about to complain.

Put out by the American Psychological Association (APA) it provides access to online journal feeds, so you can keep your your eye on the ball of mental health happenings.

Just to be clear–you only get the title and the abstract, but, to be honest, that’s often enough to set bloggers going.  I like to get the full article before I spout off, but this helps me know what I’m looking for before I even know I’m looking.

It follows such a staggering array of journals that sometimes the articles are fairly peripheral to what piques my interest (I don’t get a lot of ideas from Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factor, and Methodology: European Journal of Research Methods for the Behavioral and Social Sciences can leave me cold–and, frankly, I don’t do much with Zeitschrift für Psychologie), but you’re bound to find something that interests you, whether it’s geriatric psychology, educational psych, social psychology, or–everyone’s favorite–abnormal psych.

You can select your font size, which is good for aging eyes like mine, bookmark and save your favorite articles, and share your selections via e-mail or Facebook (apparently the APA is on a Twitter strike, I guess).

You’ve also got access to the APA press releases, which are sometimes intriguing (July 11th’s was “Middle-Aged Women Who Were Child Abuse Victims at Increased Risk for Heart Disease, Diabetes” which sounds like a killer blog topic to me), and  sometimes fairly mundane (I am lucky to know the convention highlights for the APA’s 120th Annual Convention, which is going on as I write–and I know where the press room is, should I feel the sudden urge to give an interview, I guess).

Addendum: Current Psychiatry

It’s most likely beyond too technical for most bloggers’ interests–and almost certainly too technical for most readers’ interests–but I’m a fan of Current Psychiatry, even though it takes forever and a day to load on my phone (a 3GS–don’t say I didn’t warn you).

It’s pretty basic in terms of the tricks it performs (meaning you can “favorite” an article and that’s about the best you’re going to get), but its articles are fascinating, if sometimes a little abstruse (my latest feed has “‘Bugs in my skin': What you should know about delusional infestation,” for example), and you have access to the latest (meaning two) audiocasts, which are up-to-date enough to have one on “Psychiatric risks among athletes.”

I’d be happy to share a few more of my tricks with you, but my “Therapy Soup” blog on Psych Central just updated with an article called “Anxiety, Depression and the Importance of Sleep,” and, after a quick perusal, I’ve decided that I’d best be off to take a prophylactic nap.