Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Mobile app may offer hope in times of distress

Image of man holding cell phone A user navigates to Virtual Hope Box, a Defense Health Agency mobile app that aims to decrease the experience of distress by facilitating healthy coping and emotion regulation skills. (Image courtesy of DHA)

Recommended Content:

Connected Health | Coronavirus

In the face of a global pandemic, individuals are connecting even more so through their smartphones. A mobile app on their device may offer a way for the military community to cope with the changes to their daily lives brought on by COVID-19 – and in the future the challenges of military life.

“Right now we’re all experiencing the uncertainty of COVID-19; we’re stuck in the house; we’re facing so many constraints that we’re not used to. So, we may be feeling a lot of distress,” said Kelly Blasko, counseling psychologist and mHealth clinical integration lead at DHA’s Connected Health branch. “Some of the distress you might feel may cause an increase in anxiety, changes in mood, and negative thinking.”

Virtual Hope Box is one mobile app solution that may help individuals cope. The award-winning app provides users with an opportunity to manage distress in a personalized and immediately accessible way. The app, in conjunction with mental health professional guidance, can help maintain one’s health and wellbeing.

“Virtual Hope Box is a mobile tool that may help you develop positive coping skills,” Blasko explained.

The app is modeled after the concept of a traditional hope box, where one might collect physical items that are meaningful and would bring up positive thoughts.

“You can’t carry a box everywhere; with Virtual Hope Box, the same resources are at your fingertips, virtually on your phone,” Blasko said.

Patients can use the VHB to store a variety of rich multimedia content that they find personally supportive in times of need.

“And in times of social distancing, Virtual Hope Box offers a way to maintain connection to the important things in one’s life, without interacting physically with others,” she added.

Virtual Hope Box was designed to decrease the experience of distress by facilitating healthy coping and emotion regulation skills.

The app is divided into sections – Remind Me, Distract Me, Inspire Me, Relax Me, Coping Tools and Support Contacts. Through these sections, it provides:

  • Positive reminders
  • Distractions
  • Inspirational messages
  • Relaxation through controlled breathing
  • Guided meditation
  • Positive activity planner

One distinguishing difference between a traditional hope box and the virtual version, is Virtual Hope Box includes a function that allows direct dialing to 911, the Military Crisis Line, or user pre-programmed contacts. Blasko emphasized this feature underscores the importance of reaching out for help when you need it from your support network or professionals.

“My call to action to you is to download the app, upload items that are meaningful to you, program contact information so that it is ready if you need to call right away, and try it out,” Blasko said.

Virtual Hope Box is available through app stores for various smart phones. It has been downloaded more than 680,000 times, with about 11,000 new downloads per month.

In clinical trials, veterans who used Virtual Hope Box reported significantly greater ability to cope with unpleasant emotions and thoughts compared with a control group, and found the app to be more helpful than written educational materials.

The DHA maintains additional mobile apps that may serve as good self-care and health resources during the current crisis and beyond:

  • Breathe2Relax: Provides instruction on diaphragmatic “belly” breathing, which might help lower stress and reduce anxiety. Graphics, animation, narration, and videos lead users through several breathing exercises.
  • T2 Mood Tracker: Tracks a user’s range of emotions and behaviors to show how their life is affected by thoughts, moods, changes at home or at work, and events. Helps identify trends and triggers, and info can be shared with a health care provider.

To learn more about mobile health options, visit www.health/mil/mhealth.

You also may be interested in...

DODEA Schools Keeps On With In-Person Classes, and Fall Sports, Too

Article
9/23/2021
Kids playing football

DODEA schools are striving to continue in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus

The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Care Workers are Coping

Article
9/13/2021
a nurse helping a COVID-19 patient

For health care providers, experiencing the pandemic inside a hospital has brought

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health Podcasts

Increased COVID Restrictions on the Pentagon Reservation

Article
9/8/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and positive test cases in the National Capital Region, the Pentagon Reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Bravo Plus (Bravo+)

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Digital health innovation emerges during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
8/31/2021
The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health)

The DHA's Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise, and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Connected Health | Coronavirus

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

Secretary of Defense Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Service Members

Article
8/26/2021
An Army medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to another soldier.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III yesterday issued a memorandum directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DOD Intends to Mandate Pfizer Vaccine, Pentagon Official Says

Article
8/25/2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby holds a press briefing, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Kirby said the health of DOD's military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Maintaining Mission Readiness During a Pandemic

Article
8/24/2021
Gen. Place presents at HIMSS in Las Vegas.

DHA Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place discussed the national security implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask | Deployment Health

Reform, COVID-19 Have Been Catalysts for Change in Military Medicine

Article
8/16/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim speaking to an audience at a conference

Healthcare is about taking care of people, so no amount of change or innovation is ever sufficient if modernization does not lead to helping patients, says acting ASDHA at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Military Health System Transformation

Don't Hesitate: Vaccinate Today for School

Article
8/13/2021
A boy gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Back to School Means Vaccine Time

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Vaccine Recommendations | Children's Health | Immunizations | TRICARE Health Program

Services Will Make Call on Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccines

Article
8/13/2021
Two medical people prepare syringes with doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

"There is a religious exemption possibility for any mandatory vaccine, and there's a process that we go through to counsel the individual both from a medical and from a command perspective about using a religious exemption," Kirby said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Austin Seeks Presidential Approval for Mandatory Troop Vaccinations by Mid-September

Article
8/10/2021
Sailors receive COVID-19 vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for service members by mid-September, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a message to the force released yesterday.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Top Military Medical Doctor Predicts Coronavirus Longevity

Article
8/9/2021
Army Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, director of Defense Health Agency, delivers remarks at a media briefing on COVID-19 at the Pentagon, April 21, 2021

I believe we will get to a place where we're not talking about COVID all the time

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Senior Medical Leaders Discuss COVID-19 Response

Article
8/6/2021
Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency making remarks

The keys to tackling the emerging COVID-19 pandemic were to quickly develop a comprehensive understanding of the virus, and then put a plan in place to fight it, says DHA Director.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Debunking Anti-Vaccine Myths with Scientific Facts

Article
8/5/2021
A soldier gets a shot in the arm.

Get the facts: Myths on why not to get COVID-19 vaccination debunked by science

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 26

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.