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Text messages improve well-being

Fri 13 Apr, 2012 // Firstnumber Team
text messages improve well-being

Text messages can enhance the receiver and sender’s mood, new research has revealed. Psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley discovered depression sufferers feel more cared for and valued when they receive text messages. In fact, most people taking part in the study reported an elated mood in response to the texts sent to them as part of the study, prompting them to reply about their moods and responses to daily interactions.

While using the short message service (SMS) is often blamed for contributing to illiteracy, there is now a clear argument for its positive impact on mental health.

Of the 2,277 adults taking part in the study, the most active senders and receivers were those on low incomes who had not completed secondary school. These are people who do not have access to computers, tablets and smart phones on a daily basis. Yet they are likely to own a simple mobile handset on a pre-paid plan.

"We are harnessing a technology that people use in their everyday lives to improve mental health in low-income, under-served communities," said lead researcher Adrian Aguilera who came up with the idea when he realised many of his patients were struggling to apply skills acquired through therapy to their daily routines due to stress and worries.

About 75 per cent of participants requested that they continue receiving messages after the study had concluded. A change in moods was noted when the programme was aborted for a week due to technical issues.

The full study is published in the Professional Psychology Research and Practice journal.

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