Digital Health Solutions for Mental Health Management: The Rise of Mental Health Apps

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This post is sponsored by SheMedia and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. I have been compensated for my time, but the experiences and opinions expressed here are my own.

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the BlogHer Health event virtually. The event was jam-packed with amazing speakers, engaging discussion, and gift bag goodies.

One of my favorite parts of the event was the panel entitled Navigating the Vast World of Mental Health Apps. I thought the discussion during this panel was so profound and eye-opening. The panel experts spoke about the increasing mental health concerns around the U.S. and how many people are turning to new and different management tools and resources. Specifically, they indicated that downloads of mental health apps are on the rise.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental illness affects one in five adults in the U.S. each year, and nearly half of all Americans will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives. Given these staggering numbers, it’s no surprise that mental health is becoming an increasingly important issue for people all over the world. In this blog post, we’ll look at the emerging digital health landscape for mental health apps and how they could help some people

My Mental Health Testimony

I have struggled with mental illness ever since I was 16 years old. I come from a family of mental illness. It is a multi-generational issue for us.

Up until recently, I dealt with my mental health the traditional way – through a psychiatrist and therapist. However, more recently (specifically during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020) my mental health took a turn for the worse.

With COVID shutting everything down, my kids were no longer able to attend school and were home all the time. My relationships were struggling, and in some cases, falling apart. My mental health was at an all-time low and eventually found myself struggling to keep things under control. I needed to find something else that could help my mental well-being.

With the shortage of psychiatrists and therapists, and COVID preventing us from leaving home, I took it upon myself to explore additional methods of mental health management. That is when I turned to digital health solutions for mental health management. In addition to seeing my psychiatrist and therapist, I found it to be helpful.

Mental Health Apps on The Rise

Many people are turning to new and different management tools and resources like mental health apps to help manage and support their mental health wellness.

With an estimated over 10,000 mental health apps available in major app stores, it’s clear that these digital health solutions are here to stay.

Wellness Apps vs. Digital Therapeutics (DTx) | What's The Difference?

Wellness Apps

With mental health becoming such an important issue in today’s world, it’s no surprise that there are now a number of mental health apps available that are intended to promote wellness and healthy behaviors. These mental health apps may be helpful in teaching meditation skills, sticking to healthy habits, and provides general information and tips. However, it is important to remember that they are not treatments for mental health conditions. These apps are also not reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Digital Therapeutics (DTx)

DTx are unique from other mental health apps in that they help prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease under a clinician’s direction. They deliver software-generated therapeutic interventions directly to users and must also meet certain core principles regarding user privacy, security, and clinical evidence.

There is also a subset of DTx known as prescription digital therapeutics (PDTs). PDTs are designed to clinically treat a medical condition and are subject to the same routine as taking medication. They must be prescribed by doctors and undergo study like efficacy and safety in clinical trials. In addition, they require FDA clearance before they can be used in the treatment of patients.

Wellness Apps vs. Digital Therapeutics (DTx) | What's The Difference?

How to Find a Digital Health Solution For You

With the growing number of mental health apps, it can be tough to decide which one(s) are right for you. Here are a few questions to consider when navigating mental health app options.

  1. Check to see if there is data or studies showing the app is effective at what it claims to do.
  2. Do some research on the app developers and check their credentials in the mental health field.
  3. Make sure your data will be protected and not shared with third parties.
  4. Consider what trusted experts in the mental health field have to say about the app.

With a little bit of research and the guidance of a clinician, you may be able to find a mental health app that can be part of your treatment plan to help work toward your goals.

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