Technology has invaded nearly every crevice of our modern society, so it’s no surprise at the ever-increasing number of health related apps available on our smartphones particularly mental health related apps.
Individuals who suffer from mental health disorders can find apps that help them manage stress by leading them in breathing exercises or apps that connect them with licensed therapists 24/7 or apps that let them keep track of their sleep patterns and other daily behaviors that affect their mental health.
The lists of apps available is growing every day, but are they effective? That’s the question many professionals are researching. Though a definitive answer has not been reached, there are pros and cons that can be weighed when deciding if a mental health app might help you.
Pros to mental health apps:
- Ease of access – Help is literally at your fingertips and offers patients assistance anytime they may need it day or night. It may also help people living in more remote areas receive the help they need.
- Anonymity – Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health disorders, so some people may find it easier to seek help on an app than in person at first.
- Lower Cost – Psychiatric care can be expensive, so an app may offer a more affordable way for a patient to seek care.
- Supplement Care – Mental health apps can complement traditional therapy by extending sessions or helping to reinforce concepts learned in the sessions.
Cons to mental health apps:
- Effectiveness – With so many apps, it’s hard to gain measurable data to support their effectiveness.
- Privacy – Due to the nature of mental health apps, you are providing personal information pertaining to your health and there is currently no regulation to make sure apps fall in line with HIPPA laws.
- One Size May Not Fit All – While the ease of access appeals to the masses, certain apps may not be effective for all people even if they are dealing with the same mental health issues.
- Over Promising – Currently no one regulates mental apps, so in hopes of increasing downloads, developers may over promise what use of the app will deliver. When an app doesn’t deliver the results promised, a patient may be discouraged that more traditional mental health treatments will not work either.
Not all mental health apps are created equal, and there are some great ones out there that are doing some real good. Here is an article that will give you some more insight into how technology is changing the world of mental health treatment and will help you when evaluating a particular mental health app: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/technology-and-the-future-of-mental-health-treatment/index.shtml#part_152624
And don’t forget to talk with your doctor or therapist about finding an app that would best fit your personal needs.