By Frank Petrie
Over the past several years, a sizable number of members in the medical community have come to the realization that anxiety and depression are not merely negative emotions but actual diseases which need to be properly treated.
As Apple has seriously become involved in the health field with the introduction of the Watch, it was but a matter of time before developers created apps that could help those who find themselves struggling with anxiety and depression. A number of medical professionals have endorsed these apps as being of possible value (although you may still find that professional treatment is in order).
“Everyone wants to be cool under stress. But how do you get there? How do you find your way through situations that set your mind racing and make your palms sweat?”
“Improve ourselves by helping others. It’s a beautiful idea. Better yet, it works.
“Based on research from the MIT Media Lab, Koko uses an innovative form of crowdsourced cognitive therapy.”
Koko (http://itskoko.com) is very simple to use. Getting suggestions from people via ‘social crowdsourcing’ is a very interesting concept. These respondents are most likely imparting empirical knowledge which can be of great value. (To learn more about the science behind Koko, head over to their site and go to the ‘About’ page (http://itskoko.com/about).
Perhaps, most important in all of this (and comforting), is that you remain anonymous. In fact, the only information that they have about you, is if you decide to opt into their weekly newsletter. To receive it, you have to provide them with your email address. (Yes, yes, someone who wanted to find out exactly who you are could use your email address to learn lots about you. But I don’t think that an app of this nature is a place that hackers are going to turn to as a starting point to mine such information.)
To use this app is extremely simple. If you have an issue that you’re wrestling with, you begin by touching the ‘+’ icon in the upper right corner.
You then pick the appropriate category or situation from a list. The list ranges from topics such as school, marriage, or health to ‘I can’t believe I did that’ or ‘My life’s like a soap opera.’
You then press the ‘next’ button which takes you to another page where you sum up your situation in two to three sentences. From there, it is broadcast to the Koko (http://itskoko.com) community where others worldwide can view what you have written and offer advice or suggestions on how to “rethink” your situation.
If you receives responses, they will be listed at the bottom of the page you posted to. You simply tap on the icon that looks like the top of a ream of papers underneath your post to bring up the responses/suggestions/advice. If there are more than one, you swipe to the left to reveal each successive response.
Under the heading “My Stuff.’ you can keep track of ‘My Replies,’ ‘My Posts,’ or follow posts by tapping the silhouette icon in the upper left corner.
Under that section is “Community,’ where you can share your feedback regarding Koko (http://itskoko.com) with its developers. And if you want to learn more about the underlying science of all this, go to their ‘About’ page (http://itskoko.com/about).
My disappointments are very small. I did find that replying to responses wasn’t completely intuitive but I was able to figure things out after playing with the app for a few minutes. Also, my experience with the ‘My Stuff” section was also somewhat mixed. Following a thread wasn’t the easiest thing to do. But I eventually figured it out.
Having a physical health issue myself that I monitor with apps, I was very curious to see how mental health issues (in this case anxiety and depression) could be addressed with an app. I have a friend whose daughter suffers from bouts of anxiety. He has told me stories that make you realize how serious a malady this is. It’s not something that you just ‘suck up’ and ‘get on with it.’ Fortunately, as I said earlier, the medical community is finally realizing this.
And in my opinion, this ‘crowdsourcing’ approach simplifies and, more importantly, humanizes things. For instance, I know for my situation, I spend countless hours in numerous forums to glean how people deal with a particular physical health issue that I may be currently experiencing. Here, instead of my going to various sources to find a possible solution, this is a much simpler ‘one stop shop’ approach’ that, in my opinion, is extremely beneficial. Those with similar issues aren’t exactly coming to you but you are all gathered in the same digital space sharing your experiences and suggesting viable solutions.
Again, if you have a serious issue, you should seek the help of a professional. But stressful, anxiety producing situations that you would normally seek counsel from a friend or family member for a possible solution, with Koko you now have an unlimited, anonymous worldwide community at your disposal to solicit advice.
NOTICE: You must be at least 17 years old to download this app.
©2016 Frank Petrie