Many people who seek fundamental health care advice regarding mental health use mobile applications which claim to aid in the relieve symptoms or well-being. While the usage of mental health apps has recently seen a surge, a group of researchers decided to identify how effectively mental health apps trick the solution seekers and their mental health.
In a recent study published by the Annals of Family Medicine alleges that these apps lead to unjustified diagnoses and misinformation about mental illness.
The authors of the study claimed that mental health may seem to imply mental well-being as individual’s responsibility and promote medicalization of normal mental states, such messages should be questioned within the healthcare patient-clinician relationship to ensure empathetic healthcare and to avert over-diagnosis.
Another group of analysts from the University of Sydney scrutinized the apps from Canada, U.K., Australia, and the U.S. limited the studies to platforms that cited mental health symptoms or diagnoses, offered guidance and diagnosis, or made health claims.
Out of the total 61 apps preferred, 11 focused on other psychological symptoms and wellbeing of the individual, 16 addressed mood disorders, and 34 of them targeted panic and stress.
Scientists then took key themes and app messaging into consideration.
The authors of the study identified two leading messages about mental health: the first one stating that fragile or poor mental health is universal and the second one stating that individuals can effortlessly manage their own mental health concerns with the aid of the mental health apps.
The apps focused majorly on any one of the three tactics to help including cognitive therapies, self-monitoring tools, and calming mechanisms. The writers concluded that 61% of the apps “claimed vague scientific authority” for their creations.
Apps like these can result in over-diagnosing of mental illness and may prevent individuals in need from reaching out for help.
Dr. Lisa Parker, lead author of the study and one of the post-doctoral research associates with the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Pharmacy expressed that “The idea that the normal ups and downs of everyday life need treatment could drive use of these apps by people with minor concerns. These users are unlikely to get any significant benefits but may receive large time burdens and potential loss of privacy. It might be useful for these people to hear alternative views about what constitutes normal psychological experiences to prevent over-diagnosis.”
People who suffer from severe mental health issues may perhaps receive the help from clinicians or by mental health care workers’ consultations around the importance of seeking additional forms of empathetic healthcare and the limitations of app usage.
The study further revealed that the creators of the app heavily focus on employed white individuals in a family indicating that many others are not signified.
They further emphasized the importance of conversations with clinicians as a replacement for sole reliance on the applications.
The authors of the research encourage doctors to probe patients about app usage and begin conversations about the highlighted messages in the study.
Patients may reap benefits by hearing different opinions about the constitution of normal psychological experiences with peculiar towards countering medicalization. Although the use of mental health apps may seem enticing, the idea that everybody should or need to engage in frequent app use should not be taken seriously.