The Phobia Free app has been given the seal of approval by NHS England

Arachnophobia app given NHS seal of approval

An app that helps people overcome arachnophobia has been approved by NHS England to feature on its app library.

Phobia Free, designed by Virtually Free, helps to tackle people’s fear of spiders by exposing them to more and more realistic spiders over time, progressing from cartoon spiders all the way up to an augmented reality tarantula that looks and behaves like the real thing.

Following a review the app, which is available on iPad and iPhone, is now available on the Health Apps Library.  All apps featured in the library have been reviewed by NHS England to make sure they are clinically safe.

"Having our app approved by the NHS is a tremendous endorsement of our work," said Virtually Free co-founder Dr Andres Fonseca.

"We believe this initiative by NHS England to give people access to quality assured apps and protect patients is very important. Smartphones and tablets have become integral tools in people accessing medical information and the large amount of information out there, can sometimes become overwhelming for people to access the help they need.”

Arachnophobia, an acute fear of spiders, affects about 6 per cent of the population and in extreme cases arachnophobia suffers may experience panic attacks as a result of their fear.

The app uses the clinically proven method of systematic desensitisation through a combination of relaxation techniques and in app gameplay in ten real life environments where users might expect to encounter a spider, with users setting goals and tracking progress.

Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information at the NHS Commissioning Board, said: "There are somewhere in the region of 13,000 apps out there which profess to give various types of medical advice. The library is a way of giving an NHS stamp of approval to apps so users know they are safe."

Visit the E&T Magazine Facebook page for a video about the Phobia Free app.

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