The Explosion of Mental Health Apps Raises Concerns

Are app developers in a rush to sell a product with an appealing user interface with little evidence of effectiveness?



Mental health apps have exploded onto the scene over the last decade. Millions of people around the globe are now using them. But they come with risks. What should you look out for before downloading them?   

According to new research from The University of Manchester and Oxford College, the UK is leading Europe in using technology in healthcare. In its latest report, entitled ‘The Future is Now: How Technology can Transform Health Care in England,’ the team found that almost three-quarters (73%) of patients said they were interested in digital solutions like computerized decision aids or telemedicine to help improve their care.

The mental health industry growth comes with serious ramifications: app developers are not stopping at just creating apps that treat disorders; they’re also making money off consumers who may be drinking dangerously early or online predators preying on children. This trend needs to be closely examined before the industry gets any worse.  

Mental Health Industry Growth and Privacy Concerns  

 Mental-health apps are the most recent way to raise awareness and gain recognition of a personal struggle. Mental health has been growing into a large industry; in 2016, the financial market was valued at $100 billion in the United States alone. This is expected to grow by 2020 to well over $150 billion. With these numbers, it’s no wonder that app developers and entrepreneurs alike have been trying their best to ride this wave.  

However, with this growth comes some serious privacy concerns. Many of these apps do not disclose information on how they use user data or their terms for sharing user information with third parties, which puts millions of Americans at risk for identity theft and other forms of fraud.  

A simple search of the Google Play Store’s most popular free apps will yield many results for mental health “helper”-apps. Among those found are AnxietyHelper, DepressionHelper, PanicHelper, and Social AnxietyHelper. The most popular of these apps boast more than 10 million downloads and over 5 million reviews. Despite their popularity on app stores, they have little regulation from the FDA or FTC—the government agencies regulating medical treatments (including apps). This is concerning because many people don’t realize when an app is or is not a legitimate source for treatment or help.   

The Best Mental Health Apps  

From a consumer protection standpoint, the best apps for mental health have some of the following features:  

* They are FDA regulated or certified.   

* They disclose that they monitor the patient for potentially harmful behavior.  

* They disclose what information is being tracked and how it will be used.  

Here are some of the best apps for mental health:  

MoodKit: MoodKit is a great app for tracking your mood and symptoms. Michael Knable created it, and the app has gone on to win numerous awards. This application is free, with no additional in-app purchases or fees. It’s available on the Apple Store, Google Play Store, and the Microsoft app store. 

Mental health app- MoodKit

MoodKit applies psychological principles to help one with everyday life.

Moodfit: Moodfit is a mood tracking app that has helped millions. The app tracks users’ moods, symptoms, and behaviors. It does it without needing a web portal or ongoing subscription fees. Many in-app purchases are available for “premium” features, but there are no fees to use Moodfit except for the cost of data transfer over cellular networks (free with an unlimited data plan).

Best Mental health app

Moodfit helps regulate and improve the fitness of your mood.

Talkspace: Talkspace is a mobile app designed to help with depression and mental health. This is one of the most successful mental health apps in the United States. Talkspace has been available since 2011 and has been used by millions. The free version lets users text their therapist, but they can upgrade to premium for 24/7 access to their own therapist and even meet other users in-app.  

Talkspace and mental health industry

Talkspace helps users connect to therapists.

Headspace: Headspace remains one of the best mental health apps you can find around. It is a free mental workout app that helps with anxiety, stress, depression, and sleep disorders. This app was created by neuroscientist Andy Puddicombe and uses proven meditation techniques like mindfulness, body scanning, and heart rate variability to improve moods.  

Mental workout app

Headspace uses proven meditation techniques to lighten your load.

Todoist: This app is an effective and convenient way to keep track of your schedule. The app is available to download on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone Store. Unlike many other mental health apps that include a constant need for management between a therapist and client, Todoist often works as a therapeutic tool and a productivity device that allows users to accomplish tasks at work or school and monitor their progress.  

Mental health app todoist

 Todoist helps you effectively track your schedule.

Mental health apps and the industry don’t look to slow down anytime soon, as the number of mental health patients. However, people must understand their responsibilities in using the apps. Furthermore, consumers should be aware of the potential for privacy and regulatory issues involving mental health apps.

Christy Gren
Christy Gren is an Industry Specialist Reporter at Industry Leaders Magazine she enjoys writing about Unicorns, Silicon Valley, Startups, Business Leaders and Innovators. Her articles provide an insight about the Power Players in the field of Technology, Auto, Manufacturing, and F&B.

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