Resource Discovery| Mobile App: PTSD Coach

By: Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT

PTSD Coach Mobile App
Image from US Department of Veterans Affairs[PTSD Coach Mobile App]
June is PTSD Awareness Month and in its honor, we would like to share this great app created by the VA’s National Center for PTSD  in partnership with the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 60% of men and 50% of women experience a trauma in their lives. Approximately 7-8% of the US population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. For Veterans, the number of PTSD cases in a given year varies by the service era with approximately 11-20% who served in OIF or EIF.
Thinking about the statistics above and the ever- growing use of technology, the National Center for PTSD has created a mobile app designed to provide education and assistance in managing symptoms that may occur after trauma. This app has multiple features including the following sections: Learn, Track, Manage, and Support.

This option provides three different categories where you can learn about PTSD, get professional help, and how PTSD impacts the family. Each category features questions, answers, and resources that may assist people in learning more about their own symptoms or those of a loved one.

This option also provides three different categories offering users the option of taking an assessment, reviewing assessment history, and scheduling an assessment. These three options allow users to monitor their results over time to assess whether their symptoms are getting better or worse. An easy- to- read graph is provided so that users can quickly determine their progress. Additionally, users can schedule times to take their self-assessments where the app will remind them to complete it. They recommend using the month schedule to take the assessment.

This option has several symptoms in a list, offering the user a ‘distress meter’ where they can determine their level of distress at any given time. After the user enters their level of distress, the app provides a tool to help manage the symptoms and change the level of distress. The tools range from ambient sounds to inspiring quotes. There is also an option for adding favorite pictures and sounds to assist in self-soothing techniques.

The final option offers users three categories as well, including crisis resources, find professional care, and grow your support. These categories feature phone numbers to hotlines for crisis intervention and a place where users can add phone numbers that may be helpful to them. Additionally, there is information on ways to locate mental health care providers for the general public and veterans in their area.

PTSD Coach is a wonderful resource for those who are struggling with or know someone who is struggling with symptoms of PTSD. While this does not take the place of professional evaluation and help, it is certainly a tool that can be used in a very personalized and private manner, offering some light during those dark times. This app is available for FREE download from iTunes and Google Play.

This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the Social Media and Programming Coordination Specialist for the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development concentration on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

A Little Medicaid Summer Reading

Written by Christopher Plein, Ph.D. West Virginia University and MFLN Military Caregiving Team Member

Summer should be a time for beach or other vacation reading.  Some of my favorite reads are histories and biographies, with a couple of mysteries thrown in.  But for those of us involved or interested in healthcare policy and programs – and their effect on military families and communities – we need to keep up on current affairs.  In this blog, I am going to offer a few quick reads to help you get a sense of what might be happening to one of the most important features in the healthcare landscape. I am talking of course about Medicaid.  Much of what I am offering here is a follow-up to a webinar that our MFLN Caregiving team offered just this week – Medicaid: Taking Stock of an Essential Program in Uncertain Times.

In our webinar session, we discussed how Medicaid provides health insurance for approximately one out of five Americans.  That’s about 20 percent of our population.  It serves the young and the old and is intended primarily to assist those with low incomes and/or disabilities.

Military families should be familiar with Medicaid for at least four reasons:

  • When a family member has a serious health condition, they may need Medicaid to supplement their TRICARE or other healthcare benefits.
  • Like many in the civilian population, military personnel are often caregivers for older loved ones. Medicaid is a major source of insurance and support for those needing care, and it’s important to understand Medicaid’s role in long-term care and service options.
  • Because Medicaid systems vary so greatly across the states, military families in the PCS process, nearing separation or retirement, may want to know the lay of the land in those places where they may be moving.
  • Finally, because of Medicaid’s influence on the health care system and on state and federal budgets, it is important to be aware of program happenings.

Medicaid is front and center these days in Washington, D.C.  In fact, just yesterday the U.S. Senate leadership released its proposed version of health reform legislation.  Medicaid is the focus of much proposed action. The bill calls for changing the way Medicaid funds are allocated to the states.  There is also a proposal to gradually end the expansion of Medicaid that was provided to certain low-income populations under the Affordable Care Act of 2010.  Approximately 14 million individuals are covered under the Medicaid expansion option in 31 states plus the District of Columbia.

The amount of press coverage and analysis that these proposals are generating is significant, but I would suggest that the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and New York Times are good sources to look at to get analysis from various angles and perspectives.

These reform debates are likely only to get louder and more intense in the weeks to come.  I often recommend to those who are concerned about current policy controversies to take “the long view” (of course escaping to the beach and reading a good novel is worth considering as well).  By taking the long view we can better place things in context.

Medicaid has been around for over 50 years and is no stranger to debate and calls for reform.  One of the big takeaways from this week’s Medicaid webinar is that there are many vested interests wrapped up in Medicaid.  These include not only advocates for patients and low income families, but also many healthcare providers, hospitals, long-term care providers, and managed care organizations.  Because of the economic, political, and social issues involved, these and other stakeholders will want to have their voices heard as things move forward.

To fully understand Medicaid’s role and scope, I would recommend taking a look at online resources offered by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  The Kaiser Family Foundation is widely recognized as a leading authority on health policy matters. Two of their resources are especially effective.  An Issue Brief entitled, “10 Things to Know about Medicaid,” provides great insights on the program’s role in providing health coverage for the disabled, the elderly, and low income families while also providing perspective on funding and health outcomes.  Just as an aside, I also highly recommend a recent column by David Grabowski and his colleagues published in the New York Times that reminds us, especially as we get older, that we may need to rely on Medicaid.

The second Kaiser Family Foundation resource allows us to have quick and ready access to national and state level data and analysis on Medicaid – all in a very accessible and readable format. The foundation offers Medicaid State Fact Sheets on its website. Of course if you want to read this at the beach or on vacation, you’ll need to bring along a computer!

The Military Families Learning Network is dedicated to providing information and discussion on major health policy issues relevant to military families and to those who provide assistance and guidance to families navigating healthcare and other systems of care and support.   Please take time for that favorite vacation or beach read this summer, but in the interim consider some of the resources offered here.  In addition, we would like to remind you that an in-depth three-part series on Medicaid is available through the MFLN portal.  Just link to our Medicare & Medicaid Resources blog post.  Through our portal, you will find information on other important health care topics.   For example, information on the Medicare program (which provides health insurance for seniors) can be found in our recent blog ‘Are You Covered? – Medicare Overseas’ as well as our archived webinar Medicare 2017 & What it Means for You.

In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be sure to keep on top of things and share with you resources and analysis of what is happening with health policy developments and how they might affect caregivers and their families.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on June 23, 2017.