The Viability of Mental Health Apps: Perspectives of Mental Health Practitioners

Puja Desai
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Abstract

The advancement of technology and the increased reliance on mobile applications have impacted various aspects of life and are capable of influencing and changing behaviour, with an increasing number of the population becoming interested in self-management of mental health. Some of these applications have been designed to provide access to therapeutic care beyond traditional means. Several studies have been conducted in order to explore the efficacy and reliability of these applications; however, not much research has looked into the possible use of these apps simply as an alternative approach to therapy, or as a first aid measure to be used alongside traditional therapy. A majority of these studies have focused on the quantitative aspect, to develop evidence-based recommendations or to create better applications. The current pilot study aims at exploring the views of counsellors on the viability/efficacy of mobile based mental health applications. This would provide deeper insight into the realistic use of this platform, since they may have encountered clients who have used these applications, or recommended the use/ disuse of the same, as well as establish a base for future research. This is a qualitative study, which was conducted through semi- structured interviews. Participants included seven mental health practitioners who were active in their field. The methodological approach of this study was chosen in order to obtain rich data regarding counsellors’ perspectives on the matter. Results reflect the opinions of the interviewed therapists, indicating that mHealth apps are effective as supplements to traditional therapy, but not as replacements to therapy.   This research provides valuable insight to practitionersand clients, as well as app designers, regarding the efficacy of app-based interventions. However, the findings cannot be generalised owing to the limited sample size. Future research should delve deeper and distinguish between apps based on their function.

Keywords: Technology, Mental Health, mHealth Apps