The use of the esTOCma app, a mobile game launched by the University of Valencia (UV) to combat the social stigma suffered by people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), helps reduce obsessive-compulsive symptoms and has an effect prevention and promotion of mental health.

   These are some of the conclusions of a study carried out by the team that developed the app in 2022 and that has been monitoring its use during these years in order to evaluate the application, as reported by the academic institution in a statement. The study has been published in the journal ‘Journal of Affective Disorders’.

   According to two recently published studies led by UV Psychology professor Gemma García-Soriano, the esTOCma app “has proven to be very useful in raising awareness of obsessive-compulsive disorder in society, and in this way, banishing false myths in relation to it, reduce stigma and encourage seeking help as soon as possible.

   The results of these studies show that, after using the app for a few minutes for four or five days, users have greater knowledge about this disorder. In addition, it increases the intention to seek help in case of presenting symptoms similar to those of OCD.

   “It is important to note that we can all have intrusions similar to those experienced by people with OCD at some point, and it is important how we value them and what we do with them. The app shows people how to differentiate between these thoughts, and teaches how to value them so that they do not become a problem,” explained Gemma García.

    For this reason, after using the esTOCma App, according to the teacher, it has also been seen that “obsessive-compulsive symptoms decrease, which can have an effect of prevention and promotion of mental health.” In addition, the study also shows that using the app has reduced the levels of stigma associated with OCD in the participants and has reduced the desire to maintain social distance from those who suffer from it.

   The researcher has highlighted that the changes “have been maintained after three months, so, at least, in the medium term the results seem to be maintained. Furthermore, the evaluation of the people who have used esTOCma is excellent. 90 percent of “They indicated that they had learned with the application, and 98% would recommend it to a friend.”

   These results are pioneering since there are no previous similar works. According to the UV, esTOCma “is a tool that can not only contribute to reducing the stigma associated with OCD but also reduce the time that passes between the appearance of the first symptoms of OCD, the diagnosis and the search for an empirically validated treatment” .

   The app was developed by the Obsessions and Compulsions Research and Treatment Group (I’TOC) of the UV. It is made up of university professors, specialists in clinical psychology, researchers who have been researching for more than 25 years on the psychopathological aspects and cognitive-behavioral treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder and other disorders of this spectrum in a broad sense, such as They are eating disorders and hypochondria or anxiety due to the disease.

   esTOCma is a free application aimed at both the general population and people who suffer from OCD, or believe they could suffer from it, and their families. The tool offers, in an entertaining way and in a game format, knowledge and understanding about everything that OCD is and is not, about where to seek help, about what treatments have proven effective.

   The App aims to give visibility to a problem that generates “a lot of suffering, both due to the symptoms it generates and the stigma and lack of understanding of it.” The research team points out that it is important to seek help and, above all, to turn to specialists. “Seeking help as soon as possible is associated with greater therapeutic success. In addition, this will greatly reduce the suffering of the people who suffer from it and those around them,” he detailed.