10 Things to remember while choosing a mental health app
We have an app for almost everything today. Maybe you want to learn a new language or buy a last-minute gift for a friend, there is an application for every problem a person faces, and thankfully mental health has also been catching on with technology. Due to long waiting lists and the post-pandemic culture of having access to everything from the comfort of your home, using a mental health application might look like a viable option. Not only is it cost-effective, but it also lets you have access to help without having to move anywhere.
Mental health applications usually use tools like therapy chatbots, mood tracking devices, and games to help people with various issues ranging from anxiety, and addiction to serious cases of depression and mood disorders. However, it is important to remember that not all apps are regulated and while some me be considered useful and safe, others might lack research and accuracy. Thousands of apps pertain to mental health available for users worldwide. But how to make an informed decision about which one to download on your phone? Well, we have compiled a list of pertinent things to consider before signing up for a mental health app, and considering them while making a decision can help you find what you are looking for.
Your mental health app checklist: 10 Things to consider
It is rare to find apps that are perfectly backed up by research and studies. While some apps do provide evidence of clinical trials and studies performed to prove their effectiveness, most commercial apps do not have that. Therefore, to ensure you do not end up with an unreliable application, you can check out the app’s website first. Reliable apps document their research and findings on their website to support their users.
2. Privacy and security:
3. Disclosure to therapist:
You must most definitely disclose your attempts with mental health applications to your counselor or therapist. This way they can guide and give feedback that can enhance your app experience. Who better to tell you what is great for you than your reliable therapist? In case you do not have a therapist of your own and it is your first time seeking help, still, make sure to mention your experience if and when you do make an appointment with a professional.
4. Cost and services:
So, the great thing about mental health apps is their prices and offers. Most of the apps let you gain access to basic services without paying anything, so it is free! Only some might have paid options if you wish to avail of advanced services. Thus, you will be spending way less than a regular offline appointment.
5. Reasonable goals:
The key to finding the right mental health app is to first know what you are looking for. For example, you are in search of a vegetable shop, but let’s say you are looking for a specific one like cherry tomatoes or purple cabbage. You won't find these in all local stores, so knowing what to buy leads you to a supermarket or a commercial outlet that sells such exotic vegetables. Similarly, are you looking to track your mood, have a feeling diary, or talk to someone? Think about what drives you to these apps and then consider possible options to choose from.
6. Benefits of mental health apps:
The benefits are pretty straightforward. Mental health apps are cost-effective, easily accessible, most user-friendly, and cover a wide range of issues and concerns. Make sure to go through the services they offer and compare them to find the right one for you.
7. User Experience:
Also referred to as UX, is your overall experience of using the application. Whether it was interesting to use or engaging enough that you kept coming back to it, user experience defines these aspects. But how do we know the UX even before using the application? Look for reviews by people who have already used the app and check out the screenshots of the app design and how it will look while you use it. These things will help you get a hang of the app and then you can select/reject depending on what you like.
8. It may not work for everyone:
Yes, mental health apps are great, but they may not work for everyone. The responses vary just like they do with other methods of healing. While maintaining that apps are not completely unhelpful, it is important to know that if it didn’t work for someone, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you and vice-versa.
9. Apps do not replace professional therapy:
In the end, you must understand that apps are just computerized bots trying to respond to what you type or speak. The personal touch of an actual person who can see you and help is beyond compare. Also, mental health professionals are trained people whereas, applications aren’t.
10. Apps can work alongside professional therapy:
Apps are mainly used as a self-help measure, something to help you understand what is going on with you. Many professionals like to recommend apps to supplement therapy, this way you get the best of both worlds.
The Trail and error method of selecting an app
Many try a few apps and then decide which one really works for them. With so many free applications out there, the choices are endless. If you have the time in hand, go ahead and try some of the top mental health applications and see how they can help you. This method takes up a lot of time and effort for investigation but in the end, it can be rewarding if you find the right mental health application.
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