The PsyMate™ app was developed by the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Maastricht University as a tool to get a grip on psychological problems in everyday life. Assessment instruments for depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis have been thoroughly and scientifically tested. Additional ESM scales for Parkinson’s disease, pain, cardiology, hypertension, diabetes and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are under development. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss how we can help you to implement PsyMate™ solutions in your study or practice.
PsyMate™ as a diagnostic self-management tool
Ambulatory assessment in healthcare is not new. Consider, for example, the measurement and monitoring of blood-pressure. A similar mobile ambulatory measurement system exists in mental healthcare: the experience sampling method (ESM).
ESM uses repeated measurements to assess experiences, such as mood, motivation, and stress-sensitivity, in its context (activity, company, location) at random moments during daily life.
The collected data provide personalized insight in daily life functioning and experienced stress. These momentary assessments reveal subtle, repetitive patterns of experiences in response to environmentally or mentally induced cues. These cannot be adequately measured by retrospective assessments or clinical interviews. Looking at the film of daily life, instead of snapshots, can reveal important information on processes and mechanisms that are relevant in treatment and assessment of mental disorders.
“When you have an entire movie in your hands instead of a single snapshot, important mechanisms and processes that are relevant to the assessment and treatment of mental complaints can be revealed.”
— PROF DR. PHILIPPE DELESPAUL —
(Professor of Health Care Innovations GGZ and initiator PsyMate)
Monitoring treatment and medication
Monitoring experiences in daily life can be used to gain insight in long-term mood, motivation and, salience (relevant for psychosis-proneness) patterns. Within mental healthcare few systems are available to monitor medication or psychotherapy effects as it impacts on daily life. The PsyMate™ can be used for this purpose, improving the search for optimal medication dosage and offering content for the psychotherapy process.
The user is in control
Treatment customization in regular mental healthcare often uses superficial information. How are you? Are you feeling better? The clinician has to rely on the patient’s memory and make decisions on medication changes, supplementing unreliable user data with expert knowledge. While the patient is expert in his or her own life, communicating relevant information is not easy. The PsyMate™ helps to make that transparent: “Sunday I felt anxious; Monday afternoon I felt relaxed”. The continual information that somebody gathers can be used as to decide whether a treatment is effective. PsyMate™ empowers both patient and clinicians in shared decision making. Systematic sampling of mental state in context will raise awareness on the nature of symptoms, and patterns of changes over time within the context in which they occur. Patients become actively involved in their recovery process and more insight is offered in personal strengths and weaknesses. In other words: PsyMate™ helps patients to help themselves.
“The systematic collection of mood and experience will raise awareness about the nature of symptoms, patterns, changes over time, and the context in which they occur. This actively involves patients in the recovery process and provides insight into the nature of possible malfunctions. In other words: PsyMate helps patients to help themselves. “
–PROF. DR. JIM VAN OS —
(Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and co-initiator PsyMate)
Given the substantial risks of developing chronic psychological problems, subtle changes in frequency of occurrence and resulting invalidation of psychoses or depression (monitoring rest symptoms) following remission of psychological disorders, can be indicative for the onset of new episodes. Psychological disorders are too costly for society to only invest in treatment; there is also a high need to focus on prevention. New strategies are needed for long-term treatment of subclinical symptoms and rest symptoms. In particular, we need strategies that focus on self-management of symptoms in recovered patients. The PsyMate™ can improve self-management of emotional dysregulation to supplement professional care. It is a realistic and cost-effective option for empowering citizens at risk for mental illness.