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Virtual Hope Box is a multi-media coping skill app designed for individuals struggling with depression (particularly military service members). The four main features of Virtual Hope Box include sections for distraction, inspiration, relaxation, and coping skill options. The distraction techniques include games that require focus, like Sudoku and word puzzles. The relaxation techniques offer a variety of guided and self-controlled meditation exercises. The coping techniques offer suggestions for activities that reduce stress. The inspiration section offers brief quotes to improve mood and motivation. The app can be used in collaboration with a mental health provider through the “coping cards” feature, which can be programmed to address specific problem areas. The relaxation tools can also be used with a clinical professional or other meditation partner, if desired.
Available for: Requires iOS 10.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Requires Android 5.0 and up.
Developer: DHA Connected Health / Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
Type of Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Principles, Symptom Tracking/Self-Monitoring, Gratitude
Targeted Conditions: Mood Disorders, PTSD
Target Audience: Adults, Military Personnel
Designed to be used in conjunction with a professional? Recommended
Languages Available: English, German, Japanese, Polish, Simplified Chinese, Spanish
Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play
In a study published in 2017, a total of 117 veterans were randomly assigned to either the VHB or enhanced treatment as usual (eTAU) condition. Findings showed yjsy a higher rate of change in coping self-efficacy was associated with a decrease in severity of suicidal ideation. This suggests that coping self-efficacy may be one mechanism by which the VHB operates to help reduce suicidal ideation. (Denneson, L. M., Smolenski, D. J., Bauer, B. W., Dobscha, S. K., & Bush, N. E. 2019. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13811118.2018.1456383)
In another study published in 2016, 118 U.S. service veterans in activemental health treatment were randomized into a Virtual Hope Box (VHB) treatment group (N=58) or a control group that received printed materials about coping with suicidality (N=60). Participants in the treatment group reported significantly greater ability to cope with unpleasant emotions and thoughts compared with the control group. (Bush, N. E., Smolenski, D. J., Denneson, L. M., Williams, H. B., Thomas, E. K., & Dobscha, S. K. 2017. https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ps.201600283)
In a proof-of-concept study published in 2014, VHB was integrated into VA behavioral health treatment and it was found that high‐risk patients and their clinicians used the VHB more regularly. Patients and clinicians found the VHB beneficial, useful, easy to set up, and said they were likely to use the VHB in the future and recommend the VHB to peers. (Bush, N. E., Dobscha, S. K., Crumpton, R., Denneson, L. M., Hoffman, J. E., Crain, A., … & Kinn, J. T. 2015. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sltb.12103)
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