Do people who have serious mental illness own and use smartphones?

Smartphones are common now since so many things in our world are driven by technology. A 2019 survey of the U.S. population shows that 81% already own a smartphone. This is forecast to rise as prices for devices and data continue to fall.

Like the broader population, some individuals who have serious mental illness (SMI) are wizards on their phones. Others find it to be more challenging.

There are several smaller studies on individuals who have SMI. These studies suggest that as many as 70% own smartphones. Data also shows that:

  • 76% of people who have SMI say they are somewhat or very satisfied with their phone or tablet.
  • 50% of people who have SMI have downloaded apps onto their smartphones.
  • Individuals who have SMI offer peer support to others via smartphones and other technology platforms.

Learn more about common myths around SMI and technology, including telehealth. See our infographic on this topic.

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REFERENCES

  • Pew Research Center, June 2019, https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/
  • Young AS, Cohen AN, Niv N, Nowlin-Finch N, Oberman RS, Olmos-Ochoa TT, Goldberg RW, Whelan F. Mobile phone and smartphone use by people with serious mental illness. Psychiatric services. 2020 Mar 1;71(3):280-3.
  • Luther L, Buck BE, Fischer MA, Johnson-Kwochka AV, Coffin G, Salyers MP. Examining Potential Barriers to mHealth Implementation and Engagement in Schizophrenia: Phone Ownership and Symptom Severity. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science. 2020 Aug 31:1-0.
  • Hoşgelen EI, Akdede BB, Alptekin K. M101. Prevelance Use of Technological Devices and Internet Among Patients Diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 2020 May;46(Suppl 1):S173.
  • Torous J, Wisniewski H, Liu G, Keshavan M. Mental health mobile phone app usage, concerns, and benefits among psychiatric outpatients: comparative survey study. JMIR Mental Health. 2018;5(4):e11715.
  • Gitlow L, Abdelaal F, Etienne A, Hensley J, Krukowski E, Toner M. Exploring the current usage and preferences for everyday technology among people with serious mental illnesses. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health. 2017 Jan 2;33(1):1-4.
  • Torous J, Wisniewski H, Liu G, Keshavan M. Mental health mobile phone app usage, concerns, and benefits among psychiatric outpatients: comparative survey study. JMIR mental health. 2018;5(4):e11715.
  • Fortuna KL, Naslund JA, LaCroix JM, Bianco CL, Brooks JM, Zisman-Ilani Y, Muralidharan A, Deegan P. Digital peer support mental health interventions for people with a lived experience of a serious mental illness: systematic review. JMIR mental health. 2020;7(4):e16460.
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