How effective and safe are mental health apps?

There are 1000s of apps to pick from. While they all may look appealing, a recent study in JAMA Network Open in December 2022 suggested reasons to be careful. Only 15% of apps were supported by evidence and most had privacy concerns. This means it is unclear how they keep your mental health data safe. The study looked at 578 mental health apps and found that most apps offered the same features like symptom tracking and mindfulness.

This means that when picking apps, it is ok to be picky and look for the one that best meets your needs and is backed by evidence, and also protects your data. Given many apps are free, you should also consider free ones before paying. Like with any supplements, if thinking about using apps as a digital supplement to your ongoing care it is critical to tell your clinician. You can search for apps of interest with which was the database used in the recent study.

The reference to the study is below and you can use the link to directly access the paper.

Camacho E, Cohen A, Torous J. Assessment of Mental Health Services Available Through Smartphone Apps. JAMA Network Open. 2022 Dec 1;5(12):e2248784-. 

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