The Text4Mood is an innovative programme because it provides a novel means to address common health problems, specifically wait time for mental health intervention and geographic barriers to service. Through the use of text messaging technology, Text4Mood provides an immediate service to persons who are on a waitlist or may have difficulty accessing service due to geographic barriers (e.g., underserved communities in Northern Alberta). The programme can also be used to offer complimentary psychological support for patients who are attending individual or group counselling. The technology is a relatively low cost, high impact, and easily scalable program that uses existing technology, is devoid of geographic barriers, and is free and accessible to end users.
Examples of supportive text messages sent to patients include:
- If you keep on going, maintaining your hope and belief that something good will happen, it generally does. One day at a time.
- Anger can be empowering when it’s properly channelled, use it as an ally in your recovery. It can give you the energy and motivation to get moving physically, mentally and emotionally.
- Give yourself the time you need to recover, do not try to race ahead to where you think you should be, remember that time is a great healer.
- There are two days in the week we should not worry about, yesterday and tomorrow. That leaves today, live for today.
- Keep track of how many times a week you feel down. If you start feeling sad more often than not, then it might be time to take action.
A number of projects provided evidence for the benefits of this intervention before the program was launched. Specifically, two clinical trials in Ireland and Canada1-3 suggested that daily supportive text messages have the potential to reduce depressive symptoms in patients with Major Depressive Disorder. A user satisfaction survey for the Irish study4 noted that 83% patients who received twice daily supportive text messages indicated that the intervention had played a useful role in helping to improve their mental health, in particular, in serving as a motivation for recovery.
In light of the positive outcomes observed in the two clinical trials, it was decided to launch a daily supportive text messages service (Text4Mood) for patients of Northern Alberta, which has a widely dispersed population with patients in remote locations usually having inadequate access to psychological or counselling services. The online application allows subscribers to receive daily supportive text messages by simply texting the word “mood” to a designated number. Subscribers can also unsubscribe from the programme by texting the word “stop” to the same number or in reply to any of the messages. There is no charge to subscribers for receiving daily supportive text messages.