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Mental Health Apps

 The use of mobile devices and mobile apps have become the norm. Mobile apps solve people's need for purchases, information, connection, health and nutrition tracking, and mental health. Deciding which mobile app to use for a specific mental health need, such as managing depression, can be difficult. There are thousands of apps to choose from and the information available on the apps’ sales pages are often not adequate to make an informed decision.

Clinicians need to be competent at reviewing apps before recommending them to clients. Individuals seeking to utilize apps also need guidance in making a smart decision. Professional organizations have carefully created guidelines for evaluating apps for mental health. For example Raymond Barrett, our CEO, as a member of the American Telemedicine Association has been on an ATA task force for establishing tool for evaluating mobile apps for depression.

Society is in need of reliable online resources that have carefully vetted apps for mental health.
In our search we discovered PsyberGuide.org, which is a great resource for this purpose. Our CEO, Raymond Barrett, interviewed Stephen Schueller, PhD, Executive Director of PsyberGuide.org.

Dr. Schueller is an Assistant Professor of Psychological Science and Informatics at the University of California, Irvine and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. His work focuses on making mental health services more accessible and available through technology. This includes the development, deployment, evaluation, and implementation of technologies including internet websites and mobile health apps. He has focused mostly on common mental health issues like depression and anxiety but with a strong interest in reaching underserved and marginalized populations especially homeless youth and Latinx populations.

PsyberGuide does a great job evaluating mobile apps for Behavioral Health. They evaluate mobile apps based on three categories: Credibility, User Experience, and Transparency. Credibility has to do with whether or not the tools included in the app are backed by research. User Experience is rated by trained professionals using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS). Transparency has to do with the extent to which the app discloses privacy and security considerations and whether or not the app protects its users’ privacy according to professional standards.

With Psyberguide you can read the evaluation of several different mobile apps and search for apps that relate to specific behavioral health needs. Several of the behavioral health app evaluations included detailed expert reviews. An undertaking such as this one requires a lot of support from the community. You can support PsyberGuide through donations and using their site to determine which apps are the best fit for you or your clients.

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