Jenna Tregarthen. Image Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Jenna Tregarthen

Image Source: Sydney Morning Herald

The world of online apps is not just a playground for games and music. It also has a serious side that is beginning to have a positive effect within our community.  Australians are turning their attention to social needs and creating apps that help people.

This includes Sydney GP Emmanuel Varipatis who has created MyScreenBuddy Quit Smoking Programme to help people stop smoking and Lisa Domican who has developed The Grace App to help children with autism communicate more effectively.

With the help of a place on the Summer Institute of Entrepreneurship Program at Standford University in America and some backing from Australian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, PhD student, provisional psychologist Jenna Tregarthen has now also developed Recovery Record. after seeing her friend suffer with the eating disorder bulimia for many years.

This app was inspired after seeing her friend battle with an eating disorder and is designed to help bulimia and anorexia nervosa sufferers.

With the help of Guardian Software Development she has converted paper based treatment methods into an application that makes it easier for women to keep a food and mood diary, construct meal plans, document their progress and schedule reminders. It also rewards participants for sticking to the program.

Ms Tregarthen said “Each time the girls log a form they obtain a piece of a puzzle, which, when complete, reveals a gift from the iTunes store that they then receive with an encouragement note via email.”

Recovery Record offers incentives to stick with the program. Image Source: Sydney Morning Herald

It enables the user to have more control over their condition while keeping it private (no pulling out paper notes in front of friends every time they eat or feel low).

It also has another important role; that of support. Many young women with eating disorders feel isolated and cut off from everyone. This often stops them from seeking medical help. This app helps them like they are being supported 24/7 because it is designed to respond to the user’s mental and emotional state.

Professor Stephen Touyz, associate head of the University of Sydney’s clinical psychology unit said “Most young people these days feel more comfortable typing rather than writing and developing electronic-based adjuncts to treatment I think is a great way forward.”

One young women who has already trailed the app told the Sydney Morning Herald “[The app] has helped me realise that I’m able to eat six small meals a day … also, I’ve learned that if I’m given the choice and made to feel like I’m in control, I can make it work.”  She added “They have an online community full of people who are like me, who want to recover. I finally found a place where I’m accepted.”

Dr Rick Kausman is a Director of the Butterfly Foundation and a Generation Next speaker, he said “Health and vitality come in all shapes and sizes, and it is important to be the healthiest weight we can achieve and maintain, rather than focus on being thin at any cost. By looking after ourselves and our bodies in the best way we can, our weight/size will evolve to the healthiest level that is possible.”

Write Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald. Recovery Record