Mental Health apps are a unique way of receiving treatment and support in addiction recovery if you cannot attend in person. We have adapted to this growing technological world by creating systems that benefit us. Therapy apps and free mental health apps have been designed to reach people on a virtual, flexible medium.
Not everyone can leave their jobs, school, or life to attend treatment, therapy, or counseling. Not to mention some individuals cannot afford the cost of these services. Therefore, mental health apps are a seemingly fantastic bridge between availability and recovery.
Let’s discuss the benefits and risks of these apps, who can benefit from them, what the best apps are, and how to ensure that you build a recovery support plan that works for you.
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There are pros and cons of mental health apps. An online support group format might benefit one individual but discourage another. It all depends on what works for you. To see if a therapy app or a mental health app would support you, consider the pros and cons.
Online support group apps can be beneficial by:
If these qualities sound appealing to you, you might thrive through a mental health app. The flexibility that an app provides could suit you better than a scheduled therapy or counseling session. Sometimes people need support where they are at during a certain moment.
Being able to log onto an app at any point in the day could help you in your recovery process. There are risks of free mental health apps and therapy apps, though.
Some potential pitfalls of online support group apps are:
Hopefully, by being aware of these possible outcomes, you will approach them easier than being blindsided. It is alright if these risks make you nervous. You can always try out an app to see how you like it. If you are uncomfortable, then try seeking out in-person support group sessions.
The best mental health apps depend on a set of standards. You get to decide what app you want to download. However, if you don’t know where to begin, various credible organizations have vetted and ranked the over 10,000 mental health apps that are available.
The US National Library of Medicine believes that the minimum standards of a mental health app should include clear information on:
If all of that information is clear, the app is worth exploring. Within these applications, users will find techniques used in treatment centers such as Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). These methods have proven to be helpful for addiction, mental health, and other struggles such as OCD or anxiety.
Results have also shown that the combination of peer support, professional support, informational sessions, and planned activities in these apps have been effective alongside these techniques.
The best mental health apps depend on your mental health condition and stage of recovery. Psycom.net, a website founded in 1996 by Ivan K. Goldberg, MD. Goldberg, a clinical psycho-pharmacologist and psychiatrist, created the top mental health apps for 2021.
Other organizations have developed ways to evaluate mental health apps to determine effectiveness and credibility. The American Psychiatric Association created an eight-minute video explaining their app rating system.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America uses a chart they created; ranking applications based on their:
Health experts predict that mental health apps and therapy apps will be used more in the future as they continue to evolve. The self-management that these apps can provide benefits individuals unable to seek help or treatment face-to-face.
If you are still uncertain about downloading a mental health app, there are some questions and concerns you can walk through first to feel more comfortable.
If any of those mental health apps sounded appealing, then you might consider joining one. The fact that one of these apps can help you is great news! To determine what app will best suit you, there is some research you can do. All of these apps can vary in how they are organized and led. Therefore, before joining the community, make sure you download an app tailored to your needs.
It is important to ask these questions and look up answers to see if a specific mental health app will benefit you. Red flags you need to be aware of are if there are fees. If there is any pressure to purchase services or products, do not get involved.
Another red flag is if the app claims they can 100% cure your condition. We hope the app will help you; however, this promise might be more ‘clickbait’ than reality. It is good to air on the side of caution, but don’t be discouraged if it takes you some time to find the best fit.
We live in a digital world, whether we like it or not. Technology has integrated itself into our work environment, schools, and home.
For better or for worse, we have digital technology at our disposal. The good news is, when it comes to mental health and addiction, the world now has tools to reach people all over the world and help them heal.
Researchers administered an online survey in 2019 called the “Use of Smartphone Apps, Social Media, and Web-Based Resources to Support Mental Health and Well-Being.”
It was conducted by Katarzyna Stawarz Ph.D., Chris Preist Ph.D., and David Coyle Ph.D. According to the survey, “a strength of digital technology, particularly smartphones, is its ubiquity and personal nature. It means that users can access support at the moment, in response to feelings or circumstances, and engage with a therapeutic practice or material when needed.”
Having mobile mental health apps in counseling can strengthen the digital age. This kind of mobile availability can establish positive habits in its users.
A benefit of mental health apps that in-person sessions don’t have is the possibility of immediate assistance or guidance.
Using this strength of digital technology can help people struggling with mental illness or addiction. For example, if you walk through a part of town where you used to drink or do drugs, it might trigger you, and you may get a little scared.
You can pull out your app and open material to guide you from the temptation. Or maybe another person is on the app who you can talk to. This kind of immediate help in a person’s day-to-day life allows them to focus on their recovery goal 24/7.
Feedback is available from patients who have downloaded and used mental health or support group-type phone applications.
A comparative survey study was directed by John Torous, Hannah Wiśniewski, Gang Liu, and Matcheri Keshavan. It was called the “Mental Health Mobile Phone App Usage, Concerns, and Benefits Among Psychiatric Outpatients.”
The study surveyed 113 patients from a private clinic and 73 from a Department of Mental Health clinic. About 10% of each clinic downloaded and used a mental health app.
According to the patient’s feedback, “patients at both clinics were most concerned about the privacy of mental health apps. Those at the state DMH clinic viewed cost savings as the greatest benefit, and those at the private clinic reported time as the greatest benefit”.
Mental health apps are more cost-effective and are more flexible when it comes to time. It is natural for people to be concerned about privacy settings.
Anonymity can be beneficial or harmful. The goal should be to find happy medium privacy but not become too closed off that you don’t grow. In a way, an app is more private since you don’t have to show up in person. The truth is that sharing personal issues is difficult, and it can allow patients to be more open because it is easier to share through an app.
If you are considering seeking treatment, call us today. We can help guide you as you look into the multiple treatment options, therapy, and counseling.
The key to healing from mental illness and addiction in relationships! We want to help you find your community of support, whether in person or on an app. Call us if you have any questions or concerns about your recovery journey.
The truth about addiction recovery apps is that they are here to stay. In time, they will also become more popular. However, it’s important to note that these support apps cannot replace evidence-based inpatient and outpatient treatment for addiction.
In fact, in the early stages of recovery, where you may be going through detox, needing extra supervision and care, these apps cannot help you.
Medical professionals recommend using these apps as a supplemental support system in addition to in-person treatment and support groups.
If you’re seeking a recovery plan to overcome an addiction, call us today at (888) 906-0952. Let us help you change your life!
 Mayo Clinic
 NCBI Study
 NIH.gov study
 Pubmed study
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