Keywords: mobile apps, COVID-19, implementation, self-care, Veterans, Service members
The VA’s National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD) and the Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch collaborate regularly to bring evidence-informed mental health digital resources to Veterans, Service members, and the public. During a time of unforeseen loss, isolation, and stress, the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity for both departments to develop new technologies to meet the moment, and to leverage existing implementation efforts to expand the reach of digital self-help resources. The first talk in this panel describes a national effort that resulted in over 17,000 Veterans being introduced to NCPTSD mobile mental health apps for self-care during the pandemic. The second talk offers a closer look at staff participants in that project, specifically how staff perceptions of the technology and of their own abilities predicted the number of Veterans they introduced to mobile mental health apps. The third talk provides an overview of the rapid development of the COVID Coach app for self-care, discusses analysis of anonymous usage data, and describes implications for future research. The final talk describes program evaluation of a time-limited text-based service to help military couples cope with stress related to the pandemic. Together, this panel demonstrates innovation in the development, dissemination, and adoption of mobile mental health tools during an unprecedented moment in history. Further, presentations will highlight lessons learn ed in meeting the immediate needs identified during the pandemic, procedures and resources for engaging various user populations, and new areas for dissemination and study.