From hailing a rideshare to ordering your morning coffee, apps have become an integral part of modern-day life. Heck, I even found my fiancé on a dating app. It makes perfect sense that one of the biggest trends in mental health is the development of apps aimed towards improving a patient’s emotional well-being.
As a pharmacist, you may assume that I think drugs are the answer to all health issues. In actuality, many pharmacists are conservative when it comes to prescription drugs. We feel that prescription drugs play a critical role in treating illness and disease but we also understand the importance of non-pharmacologic therapies in treatment success.
This is what makes me so enthusiastic about the development of mental health apps. I feel strongly that successful treatment of mental health comes with the proper marriage of both pharmaceuticals and non-pharmaceuticals.
An app can allow a patient who may not have logistic or financial access to a psychologist the opportunity to participate in affordable therapy from their home. It can give advice on sleep, intense emotions, worry, and panic to those with anxiety. Apps can help patients with bipolar disorder track their moods so they can monitor their treatment progress. The possibilities are (almost) endless.
Mental health apps are an exciting frontier, but one that can be difficult for patients to navigate. Type “mental health” into your app store search bar and hundreds of results populate. How do we as patients determine the best mental health app for us?
Here are a couple of tips from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and myself:
- Ask your doctor or nurse if there is an app that they recommend. They may have a personal favorite or one that their patients find useful.
- See if the app offers the opportunity to connect with real people or if it is purely automated. Mental health can be a sensitive issue. You may prefer the anonymity of an automated app or you may desire interaction with other patients and practitioners.
- Investigate who created the app. Is the creator a licensed psychologist? An advocacy group? Did the creator base the app off of a method that has been researched? This may give you a window into the content.
- This might seem like a no-brainer, but read the reviews. The reviews may allow you to see if patients with similar needs had success with the app.
- Try it! Everyone is unique, so press that download button and give the app a try.