There has been a global surge in the use of mobile phones over the past decade with subscription rates of devices in Europe now exceeding 100%. Mobile phones are popular, portable and affordable, and allow for easy communication. This provides an opportunity for their use in improving mental health related outcomes, especially through use of text message technology. Several studies have demonstrated the usefulness of text messages in improving various aspects of medical care, including attendance with primary care and outpatient clinic appointments, adherence with physical health medication, managing side effects of non-psychotropic medication and promoting smoking cessation. We review here the potential for using text message technology in psychiatry, specifically for improving adherence with scheduled outpatient appointments, increasing adherence with psychotropic medication, managing side effects of psychotropic medication and managing patients with addictive disorders and co-morbid mental health problems. We identify barriers to the potential use of text messaging technology in psychiatry and propose solutions to some of these barriers. We also propose the need for further research into the use of text messaging in psychiatry and how this might impact upon the therapeutic relationship with patients.
Keywords: Text message, appointments, adherence, psychiatry, side effects, addiction, psychotropic medication, Smoking cessation, Mood symptoms, Community functioning