Schizophrenia and Technology: Opportunities for Recovery

APR. 21, 2016

By Ken Duckworth, M.D.

Technology is rapidly changing the world. People use the Internet at home and on their phones to do everything from gather information to perform everyday tasks. What isn’t well understood is how much people with serious mental illnesses use technology to cope with their symptoms and support their recovery. In a mental health care system with persistent funding cuts and a workforce shortage, technology may be an underappreciated tool. For example, I have had patients living with schizophrenia mark their next appointment in their phones, but my clinic didn’t connect to their phones to provide reminders or notification of changes. How many other missed opportunities are there in this new world?

When NAMI received a grant from the Drake Family Trust to study schizophrenia, we chose to investigate the current state of technology use among people with schizophrenia. In 2014, NAMI conducted the Health and Technology Study, the largest study to date to examine ownership and use of technology among individuals living with schizophrenia.

Methods

NAMI partnered with Harris Poll to prepare an online survey, which an institutional review board approved. The survey questions focused on access to technology, coping strategies and patterns of use. The survey was conducted online from Aug. 25 to Sept. 8, 2014, and included 457 respondents who self-identified as having schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. While the study gives insight about Internet users who self-identify as having schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, the study has some limitations. We don’t know how representative this sample is of the larger population, which is an area for further inquiry.

Key Findings

The results showed that people living with schizophrenia who responded to the survey use digital technology generally as much as the rest of the population. Respondents used digital technology to help them gather information, improve their capacity to manage symptoms and connect with others.

Access to Digital Devices: Most respondents (90%) owned more than one digital device such as a personal computer, tablet or smartphone. More than half (54%) had access to smartphones (compared to 64% of all Americans).

Managing Mental Illness: Many respondents used their devices to manage their mental illness in daily life in the following ways:

  • To block auditory hallucinations with music or audio (42%)
  • To find health information online (38%)
  • To schedule reminders for appointments (37%) and for taking medication (28%)
  • To look up transportation and maps (32%)
  • To monitor symptoms (25%)
  • To identify coping strategies (24%)

Personal Connections: Respondents used digital devices to connect with others, including supporting other people (26%) and developing relationships with other persons with schizophrenia (26%).

More Information

The survey findings were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in the articleDigital Technology Use Among Individuals with Schizophrenia: Results from a NAMI Survey” (registration is required to view). The authors were Katrina Gay, National Director of Communications at NAMI, Anand Pandya, M.D., former NAMI Board President, and Ken Duckworth, M.D., Medical Director at NAMI. The authors received help from Dr. John Torus, a leader in technology assessment for the American Psychiatric Association, and Adam Joseph, a Fulbright Scholar who has studied Twitter use and misuse of the word “schizophrenia.”

Visit NAMI’s website for more information about the study, including a detailed presentation of findings. In addition, presenters from NAMI will discuss the survey at the NAMI National Convention in Denver, July 6–9. We welcome you to come talk with us about the findings, how you think technology tools can be a resource and how NAMI can use technology to promote recovery.

Acknowledgments: Former NAMI Board President Keris Myrick played an important role in helping to conceptualize the project, helping to design the survey and offering her lived experience of an individual who uses technology in her recovery.

Ken Duckworth is NAMI’s medical director.

Comments

Comments
JUN, 14, 2018 06:35:03 PM
Alexa
I want to share experience of our recovery from schizophrenia. I have child who was diagnosed with that illness. And it is a living hell to have this illness for the person and the family. I was down, I was hopeless. And then I found Dr. Mackliff from Ecuador who does BEAM surgery on adrenaline glands reducing adrenaline levels in the blood. His procedure stops psychosis and schizophrenia symptoms. I would not share it with everyone if it will not be a true. But we did the surgery, and now we do not use any medication, and my child has no symptoms. He is just normal child. So I want share it with everyone. I want to say this doctor is real, his surgery truly works. I found information about him on this website. https://schizophreniasolution.org/
I want to say that we meat this doctor, we had his procedure, and it works. We will be thank full to him for the rest of our lives.
Please read his research, please use his help.
Thank you.

JUN, 13, 2018 03:21:17 PM
Alexa
Interesting

JAN, 24, 2018 03:22:11 AM
Courtney Morgan
I’m so appreciative for this type of platform, it gives us all opportunity to openly share our experiences without fear of shame. It is no longer a news that there is permanent cure to schizophrenia. My daughter was diagnosed of schizophrenia 15 years ago, over those time, I spent more time in hospital than out of hospital without much improvement. It was difficult and humbling, she had a major breakthrough only with CONSUMMO treatment. we're so proud that we've done it all to save her, She now think more clearly. She has grown as a person in all facets of life. She more compassionate, intelligent, wise, sociable, and actionable! For more detail on Consummo, kindly visit this blog curetoschizophrenia.blogspot.com, And if you have used this medicine, I will advice you create an awareness to help others, because, every family that has a mentally ill patient needs help. Thank you.

NOV, 09, 2016 11:04:41 AM
Patricia
A blog with useful info for families and patients with psychotic disorders:curetoschizophrenia.blogspot.com, My son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 30s. After a difficult period coping with depression, anxiety and paranoia, My son feels his illness is under control and permanently cure using herbs, thanks to a very effective herbal product called CONSUMMO. In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you and everything will be okay, don't ever give up. check out the link to know more: http://curetoschizophrenia.blogspot.com/ or contact me with this so I can share our experience with you: patberg080@gmail.com

JUN, 11, 2016 11:17:11 AM
stephen H. East
Quote Sigmund Freud:" The key to curing schizophrenia lies in curing repression." Please visit my April 2016 blog schizophreniarepressioncured.blogspot.com It's autobiographical. Thankyou.

MAY, 13, 2016 05:10:11 PM
Joseph Frazier
Hi my mental health challgens' are very difficult. Could nami link me with an agency who can give me my mental heath medication under one roof? enail that to me

MAY, 12, 2016 07:53:11 AM
Mary Mohammed
I live with schizoaffective Disorder, would like more information about the disorder.

MAY, 06, 2016 04:30:19 PM
Renee A. Simmerman
I am a schzephreria.

MAY, 03, 2016 07:43:40 PM
John
I would like to read the entire article rather than what is presented in the post. How do I get the article? I am sending this message without checking the "Subscribe me to this blog post" box. This reads like you want me to pay a fee. After being diagnosed with schizophrenia we traveled to CA and bought him home. In the last nine years he has completed a BA degree and we have taken care of him since bringing him home.

APR, 29, 2016 02:02:12 PM
Julián Vasquez
My son, who has suffered from schizophrenia since high school, enrolled in college in Michigan after about five years of diligently taking his meds. He has finals next week (first week of May) and will complete his junior year. He uses a lap top daily, as well as his iphone. Recently, I supplied him with a tablet. He does very well with technology, and it certainly helps him in many ways other than studies.

APR, 29, 2016 06:27:53 AM
Timothy Musawwir
I thoroughly enjoyed the article schizophrenia and technology opportunities for recovery. I continue to suffer alone with schitzoaffective disorder, along with guilt and blame. Only within recent days I have started reaching out online with my àndroid phone. Being a consumer I plan to reñew my membership that expired in March.

APR, 28, 2016 08:21:48 PM
Marian O'Brien Paul
This sounds good, but my son (53) lives and has lived in residential care centers and currently in a nursing because of a stroke. If he had a cell phone, he would lose it, it would be found and kept by someone else, the same as with any technological devise, including cell phones. I want hope for people like him! too!

APR, 28, 2016 03:36:24 PM
Elmay
Quit research--produce cause, prevention, and cure.

APR, 28, 2016 03:34:57 PM
Elmay
Using technology To find health information and To identify coping strategies are the only constructive uses for an idividual to recover and take control of his/her on life of the list .
Focus should be not on continue to imprison/dependence on medical system not interested in PREVENTION AND CURE. Sorry you are just trlying to keep your profits and jobs going at peoples expense.

APR, 28, 2016 03:57:23 AM
Tim Birthisel
Very interesting work could you make presentations available on line for those unable ro visit CO?

APR, 28, 2016 02:28:28 AM
James DYNAMIC
Excellent article about this issue that I too suffer with on top of Bi-Polar.

That is if I chose to use the word Suffer Which I DON'T. You see this condition is really what we make it out to be. Recovery starts with us. How we think about this condition will determine how much power we chose to give it in our lives. Think about that, Thanx.

APR, 27, 2016 09:40:46 PM
Chris Stenger
Very interesting. So my son could use a smart phone to pull an app which could help him deal with voices if they become overwhelming? Or could use his phone to connect to a phone bank of volunteers who help with on the spot suggestions when he finds himself falling toward depression? Or could converse with his case worker for suggestions regarding daily life activities? Possibilities endless. Beats the hell out of sitting in an apartment alone, bored, wondering why this has happened to him, but anxious about going out.

APR, 27, 2016 08:37:10 PM
Wesa
So good to see what I have been using technology for in my recovery, and what I am encouraging my clients who have serious mental illness, to begin doing!! Glad to see it in black and white, my coworkers just think I like to play with phones!!

APR, 27, 2016 07:45:18 PM
Paisley
I don't see stigma mentioned in the research at all, yet it appears in the article title on the email. As a bipolar sufferer in the real world, I don't think much of the stigma free campaign: doesn't it seem a tad emperor's clothes-ish? Imposing it on the study makes me wonder. On a positive note, using technology helps me greatly in avoiding phone calls and researching independently. On the negative side, I am losing my career largely because of stigma and discrimination. Most of my colleagues had phds -- lack of knowledge was not a problem, and educating was not going to help. Stigma-free really needs more thought.

APR, 27, 2016 07:42:04 PM
elizabeth davis
i have been using music to eliminate auditory hallucinations for years. it helps somewhat, but i still hear endless streams of ruminating thoughts for which i have yet to find a solution. but the auditory hallucinations have definitely been mostly eliminated. it is a great relief. i don't go anywhere without my iPod and headphones. :)

APR, 27, 2016 06:53:31 PM
One vision
Sounds accurate. I met a girl online that was living with schizophrenia☘ and running her own personal blog and website.

She amazed me with her technology skills. People with mental illness☘ can be so smart too. 🙂👍🏼💯

APR, 27, 2016 06:39:58 PM
Elizabeth Markey
Very interesting

APR, 27, 2016 06:29:57 PM
Amy
Hey, I'd just like to know why my comment wasn't approved. I don't mean any harm, and it seemed benign. Are people who have been diagnosed with this not actually allowed to contribute to the discussion? Do you not believe me? Did it not fit the stereotype? Just wanted to know for future reference. Is it just a matter of timing? Thank you!

APR, 27, 2016 06:28:40 PM
blaine davidson
I'm surprised so many respondents have so much technology. I'm schizophrenic and I have a laptop period. That I bought secondhand. I have a safelink phone, which is not a smartphone. I use my technology for health information and connecting with others who are mentally ill. I also write a blog about schizophrenia, which gives shape to my week and focus to my thoughts. (identify coping strategies). Nami in our town was disbanded, and now I have this site, which asks for donations all the time. I'm on ssi. So I can't contribute. Good articles though. Please consider setting up a group meeting in my town again. It's very difficult to meet other mentally ill people in town otherwise. Thanks.

APR, 26, 2016 01:59:27 PM
Amy
Debit cards and auto-pay for bills are also very, very useful innovations. And text messaging is so much easier than phone calls by voice. I'm so grateful for them; it's made such a difference.

APR, 21, 2016 05:29:05 PM
Rene Kennedy
I live with schzephrenia.

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