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Text Reminders Help Connect Health Care Workers to Care and Improve their Mental Health

Penn Medicine News

Health care workers have reported spikes in feeling burnt out in the time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with nearly half saying it took a toll in 2022 compared to 32 percent in 2018. But a new study shows that easy-to-use and accessible platforms may help reverse this trend. Regular, automated text message reminders connecting staff to a mental health platform called “Cobalt,” drove significant improvements in both depression and anxiety scores among employees, according to a new JAMA Network Open study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“What we found shows that touching base with people, letting them know that help is available and easy to access, goes a long way toward maximizing digital mental health interventions and platforms, which leads to important, tangible results,” said the study’s lead author, Anish Agarwal, MD, MPH, MS, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and deputy director of the Center for Insights to Outcomes. “Mental health platforms continue to grow and evolve, but, to this point, there hasn’t been enough research about them and how to optimize their use, particularly among health care workers. Work like ours is important as health systems across the country seek to better assist their staff with the challenges they face.”