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...

DHA-PI 6205.01: Medical Logistics Guidance for the DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (n), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA's) procedures for ordering, receiving, and managing COVID-19 Vaccines inventory and ancillary kits.

DHA-IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

Policy

This Defense Health Agency (DHA) Interim Procedures Memorandum (IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (d), and in accordance with the guidance cited in References (e) through (aa), establishes the DHA’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. This DHA-IPM applies to DHA, DHA Components (activities under the authority direction, and control of the DHA), Military Departments (MILDEP), and the United States Coast Guard (CG). This DHA-IPM cancels and replaces DHA-IPM 20-004, “Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation,” December 13, 2020.

DHA COVID19 Medical Coding PolicyV5 1v

Policy

Establishes the DHA procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) within military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). This memorandum replaces DHA-Policy Memorandum 20-003 of July 1, 2020. Attachment 1 was updated to include the 2021 procedure and diagnosis codes for COVID-19, including the new vaccination and treatment codes.

  • Identification #: 20-003
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

TAB A MEO COVID19 Medical Coding Policy

Policy

Memorandum for DHA Staff - Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

  • Identification #: N/A
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

Supplemental Guidance for Providing DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccines to DoD Contractor Employees and Select Foreign Nationals

Policy

This memorandum provides supplemental guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, in accordance with reference (a). The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components as appropriate.

HA Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Laboratory Pre-Testing Questionnaire

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance for a COVID-19 laboratory pre-testing questionnaire that will be mandatory for all Active Duty Service members and encouraged for all other DoD beneficiaries treated at military medical treatment facilities.

Executive Order on Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines

Policy

This EO outlines who should receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government (“United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines”).

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccine Guidance

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components.

DHA-AI 3020-01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), based on the authority of References (a) through (b) and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (z3), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This DHA-AI also provides a preventive plan to monitor and assess for the appearance of new cases and implement those processes that will prevent them from impacting the workforce. The processes describe herein are intended to offer an actionable plan for the workforce to re-enter DHA Administrative Offices. See Appendix 1 for a summary of the DHA Administrative Office Reopening Plan. The plan uses the Force Health Protection Guidance and Health Protection Conditions (HPCON), in accordance with Reference (d), to ensure protection for the workforce, including the most vulnerable-to-serious complications from the virus while enabling DHA Administrative Offices to continue its mission. See Appendix 2 for the conceptual HPCON framework.

  • Identification #: 3020-01
  • Date: 11/3/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA AI 3020.01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and in preparation for regression or resurgence in COVID-19 cases that could impact the workforce.

  • Identification #: DHA AI 3020.01
  • Date: 6/12/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus
Showing results 1 - 10 Page 1 of 1

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.