There are major problems with mental health apps. I hate to be a Negative Nancy about it, but there are. According to a webcast, I watched recently called BlogHer, there are more than 10,000 mental health apps in the app store right now. This must be a good thing, right? Well, I would argue that quality is much more important than quantity in the mental health space. We are talking about your health here. It would be nice to put that in the hands of people who know what they’re doing. But I would argue that 10,000 mental health apps certainly can’t claim that.
The Problem with 10,000 Mental Health Apps
There are three kinds of freely-available mental health apps out there:
- Mental health apps made by people out of the goodness of their hearts who don’t really know what they’re doing
- Mental health apps built to make money
- Mental health apps backed by real science
I don’t have any actual stats, but I would suggest it’s probably 70-20-10 when it comes to percentages of which apps fall into which category.
So, the problem with the mental health apps out there is that you have to figure out which category a specific app falls into and as I said, I suspect most apps do not fall into category three. And the problem with the mental health apps that fall into the first two categories is that not only might they not work, but they might actually hurt you. That’s the thing about your mental health – what can help you can also harm you if it’s done in the wrong way. I believe we need to focus on protecting people’s health and putting it at as little risk as possible.
Additionally, you might also consider issues mental health apps have with:
- Privacy (read this for more)
- User interface
- Time expectations
- Other user’s experiences
Note: There actually is such a thing as a prescription mental health app as well. The above doesn’t really apply to them. I’ll talk more about those next time.
Fixing the Problem with Mental Health Apps
All this might suggest that I’m against apps due to all the problems with mental health apps – this isn’t true. While I think mental health apps available freely online can’t actually treat a mental illness, I do think they can be a positive addition to treatment being conducted by a professional. (I’ve actually talked about mood-tracking apps before.) After all, we can all use as much help and education as we can get.
Now, there’s no way that you, personally, can fix the problems with mental health apps, but you can look that their problem areas and make the best decision about how to use the ones that exist. In other words, you can carefully assess any mental health app before using it.
The Low-Down on Mental Health Apps in 2022
In short, there are lots of mental health apps out there and simply due to the law of large numbers, some of them are bound to be good, and some of them are likely to work for you. The thing you want to remember is to be careful about what you choose. You want an app to improve your mental health, not frustrate you, send your data to who-knows-where, market to you, or feed you false information.
Finding the Right Mental Health App for You
Next time, I’m going to talk about how to find the right mental health app for you.
If you have a mental health app you love or hate, feel free to talk about it below.
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